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From the Unconscious 
to the Conscious 



Director of the Institut Metar 
psychique International 

Translated from the French by 
.S. De BRATH, M.I.CE. 

With a Foreword by 




Printed in the United States of America 



SiGNOR Professor Rocco Santoliquido, 



G. Geley 


To many people, the nineteenth century seems to be 
the age of a great consummation. In the course of that 
century, the material sciences were freed from the 
shackles that had held them, and the work of the great 
pioneers, Newton, Franklin, Kepler, Lamarck, and the 
rest was developed with an amazing rapidity and 
resource. And to those who came to maturity in the 
last decades of this remarkable period, the material 
sciences still appear to be the consummation of man- 
kind's intellectual opportunity. Just as our forefathers 
opposed and sneered at the coming of Science, so these 
representatives of the great materialistic age resent and 
combat the greater promises of our own time. For them 
Charles Darwin is still the splendid discoverer of man's 
origin and they dread the coming of the finer and more 
inclusive theory of Being which will turn Darwin's 
Descent of Man and The Origin of Species into interesting 
relics of an old and superseded mode of thought. 

For as the earlier reactionaries were powerless to 
oppose the * march of science ' so will these conserva- 
tive scientists of our own day be borne down under the 
mass of the accumulating evidence. Darwin's theory 
that natural selection coupled with the influences of 
environment were the sole instruments by which the 
process of physical and intellectual evolution were 
achieved, has failed to explain the facts. For more 
than twenty years now, a newer school of thought has 
been throwing doubt on these so-called classic factors 
of evolution ; and, in my opinion, the work of Dr Geley 
not only confirms these doubts beyond all dispute, but 


also— and this is, indeed, the greater achievement — 
gives us a new and larger theory of the origin and 
constitution of life. 

Of the content of the present work, however, I do 
not propose to speak in detail, but I will say that I 
have found in it the evidences of a new classic. I believe 
that, in fifty years' time, Dr Geley's From the Unconscious 
to the Conscious will be looked upon as bearing the same 
kind of relation to the discoveries of the twentieth 
century that Darwin's Origin of Species bore to the 
nineteenth. This may sound rather an extravagant 
claim to make, but if Geley's theory is, as I believe, a 
true one, it must inevitably revolutionise our knowledge 
both of biology and psychology, and may, at the same 
time, lay the foundations of a world-wide religion. 

And we must remember that Dr Geley comes before 
us backed by the authority of the practical scientist and 
scholar. His medical works have already brought him 
a measure of fame, both in the study of local anaesthetics 
and of the new method of treating such specifically 
eruptive diseases as smallpox, erysipelas, and scarlatina. 
He is not a * spiritualist,* he refuses to identify himself 
with any particular school of thought, but an original 
researcher. He was chosen by scientific men of the 
highest standing and repute, such as Professor Charles 
Richet and Camille Flammarion, to be the Director of 
the International Metapsychical Institute in Paris. In 
short, Dr Geley is not some impetuous theorist rushing 
into print with a premature hypotheiis, but a patient, 
unprejudiced investigator, whose sole aim is the search 
for truth. 



In the opening chapter of the Origin of Species Darwin 
states that the * variabiUty,' on which selection and 
adaptation have to work, * is governed by many unknown 

In translating a book which fills this gap in the 
Evolutionary Theory by assigning a psychic cause as 
the origin of Variation (thus traversing the arguments 
of later biologists who refer that origin to chance or to 
the pressure of the environment) ; a book which modifies 
the conclusions of many schools of thought, both new 
and old; which replaces Bergson's famous elan vital 
by a concrete energy, and defines that energy as an 
influence forming all the varieties of cellular tissue out 
of one primordial substance, and moulding those tissues 
into organic form under the impulsion of a Directing 
Idea, the translator has a most responsible task. 

One duty, and one only, lies upon him — to be 
faithful to the author's meaning. No attempt at literary 
finish can palliate or excuse the slightest departure from 
that duty in a work which, however scientific in essence, 
is necessarily somewhat controversial in form. When 
to this duty there are added the obligations which the 
honour of personal friendship involves, faithfulness in 
rendering the idea becomes doubly imperative. To 
this all other considerations must give place. 

The Italian adage, * Traduttori — traditori,* is one 
which the translator must ever bear in mind if he would 
not be a traitor also. He has therefore kept a number 
of words which, though used by classical English writers 
on philosophy, may seem more or less uncouth and 
foreign to those who are unfamiliar with such authors. 
It is quite inevitable that a book which presents an 
entirely new application and extension of psychology 


Translator's Note 

should compel the use of a terminology which some may 
find obscure. 

* Psychism,* * Dynamo-psychism,* * Representation,* 
* Transformism,* are words of this kind, and are all 
used to express ideas which, even when not absolutely 
new, are strange to the unaccustomed ear. 

* Psychism ' is a word which is, or should be, well- 
known; meaning the animating psychic energy which 
is the subject-matter of psychology. 

* Dynamo-psychism * is considered cumbrous, but 
what other word is there that expresses a psychic energy 
acting as forming and motive power } It is of the very 
essence of the theory put forward. 

* Representation ' in ordinary use, means the delinea- 
tion of an actuality existing elsewhere : the philosophical 
sense is the same, but the actuality is in the Unseen; 
the representation is in, and by. Matter, Energy, or 
Idea. It is used by Sir Wm. Hamilton {Logic), by 
G. H. Lewes, by Herbert Spencer, and by J. Ward 
(Encycl. Brit.) in this way. 

* Transformism,' i.e. the doctrine of transforma- 
bility of individuals or species, is used by Huxley. 

* Palingenesis * is used in its correct meaning 
(rAw s= again -f- yiveffti = production), a new or second 
birth: the equivalent * reincarnation * has been spoiled 
by those who ignore the profound distinction between 
the Person and the Self, and has been intentionally 
avoided by the author. 

* Modality ' is used as it is by Caird, in the logical 
sense of modes hypothetically necessary on the pre- 
supposition of something else. The list might be 
extended: but in every case where a word seems to 
carry an unusual meaning, reference has been made to 
standard authors for its justification. 


Weyb RIDGE, February, 1920. 




This work is the logical sequel to my study of The 
Subconscious Being. Its intention is to include both 
collective and individual evolution in a larger and more 
complete synthesis. Its form is governed by the same 
procedure : to express the ideas with the utmost 
simplicity, the greatest clarity and conciseness that 
may be possible; to avoid lengthy analyses and develop- 
ments; and above all to put aside easy digressions of 
an imaginative or poetical character. 

My primary aim was to make the work a synthesis, 
and this synthesis should be considered as a whole, 
without reference to details which have been omitted 
or intentionally set aside. In fact, an exhaustive study 
of any single one of the questions treated would be a 
life work, but this is for those who devote themselves 
to analysis, and I leave it to them; my purpose is 
different, it aims at the ideal quest of a wide philosophical 
generalisation, based on facts. 

Obviously such a philosophy, in the actual state 
of human knowledge and consciousness, can claim to 
be no more than an endeavour, a sketch, or as it might 
be called, a general plan, in which only main outlines 
and a few details are clearly drawn. 

Necessarily incomplete, this philosophy cannot claim 
to be entirely original. Most of the solutions proposed 
are naturally to be found here and there, more or less 
sharply defined and more or less varied, in other natural- 
istic or metaphysical systems. 

The general idea of this work is that which has 



inspired most of the great metaphysical systems, and 
finds its clearest and most concrete presentment in the 
works of Schopenhauer. Its premises are the same; 
but the developments and the conclusions are totally 
different; my endeavour has been to bridge the chasm 
that Schopenhauer leaves between the Unconscious 
and the Conscious. Thence follows an entirely different 
interpretation of the evolution of the individual and 
of the universe. This interpretation, instead of leading 
to pessimism, leads, I will not say to optimism (the 
term being loose and questionable), but to the abiding 
ideal of Humanity, an ideal which is built on its highest, 
calmest, and most lasting hopes of justice, of joy, and 
of individual persistence. 

But the real originality of the idealist philosophy 
here outlined, the only originality that is claimed, is 
that // is scientific. Unrestricted by dogmatic or mystical 
forms, and resting on no a priori or intuitional formulae, 
it is based on positive demonstration. It is on the 
ground of scientific philosophy, and on this ground alone, 
that this work should be studied or discussed. 

To build up my demonstration I have endeavoured 
to take account of all known facts whether in the natural 
sciences, in general biology, or in admitted data relating 
to the physiological and psychological constitution of 
the individual man. In the choice of the main explana- 
tory hypotheses I have sought those which present the 
double character of being logical deductions from facts, 
and adaptable to all the facts of a group. My constant 
aim has been to reach wider and more comprehensive 
generalisations, until there should issue, if possible, a 
hypothesis sufficiently wide and general to present a 
single interpretation of the evolution of the individual 
and of the universe. 

This general method is scarcely open to criticism. 
But I have been led, little by little, by the subject-matter, 
to adopt at first tentatively, and then systematically, a 


method of treatment, secondary indeed but still important, 
concerning which it is necessary to enter into some detail. 

In considering the different biological and psycho- 
logical sciences, and in studying the inductions, deduc- 
tions, and received hypotheses founded on their data 
and accepted by most contemporary men of science, 
I was struck by serious and obvious errors due to a 
tendency to forget of the general method of treatment 
above referred to. 

There is no single one of the main academic 
hypotheses on evolution, on the physical or psychological 
constitution of the individual, or on life and conscious- 
ness, which is capable of adaptation to all the facts of 
evolution, of physiology or of psychology; nor, a fortiori^ 
is there one which can embrace general and individual 
".volution in a synthetic whole. 

Further, most of these hypotheses are, as I shall 
demonstrate, certainly in opposition to at least some 
well-established facts. 

In seeking the first origin and cause of these errors 
in generalisation I have been led to discover them 
pre-eminently in the choice of the primary facts on which 
the framework of contemporary scientific philosophy 
is based. 

In all sciences, and especially in biology and 
psychology, facts selected with a synthetic conclusion 
in view, may lead to antagonistic method, and con- 
sequently to concepts which may be divergent or 
even opposed. Two principal methods may be out- 
lined, each resulting from the selection of primary 

The first of these methods starts from the principle 
that science should always proceed from the simple to 
the complex. This method, therefore, takes as its 
point of departure the most elementary facts, endeavours 
to understand them, then passes on to rather more 
complex facts of the same order, applying to them the 



explanatory formula derived from an exhaustive study 
of the simpler, and so onwards from the base to the 

The second starts from the principle that for any 
given order of facts there can be no true explanation 
which is not capable of application to all the facts of 
that order. This method seeks first for an explanation 
capable of covering the most complex phenomena; and 
this being easily extended a fortiori^ to the simpler and 
lower ones, will necessarily be conformable to all the 
available data. 

This method thus proceeds from the summit to 
the base. 

It frequently happens, we must concede, that the 
second method ends in an impossibility. It will do 
so whenever the data of fact are insufficient. It must 
then be admitted to be inapplicable, and should be 
held in reserve, disregarding minor points in which 
it may be satisfactory, such details being necessarily 
inadequate as a basis of reasoning since they refer to 
only one aspect of the problem. 

Of these two methods, the former being primarily 
analytic, pertains to pure science. The second, primarily 
synthetic, pertains to pure philosophy. 

Now when questions arise which pertain both to 
philosophy and to science, it is necessary to consider 
which of these two methods should be adopted. 

Once a general truth has been established it matters 
little whether the explanation of different phenomena 
leading to a known conclusion starts from the base or 
the summit; the line of synthesis being known, it is 
not possible to stray. But when the task before us is 
to ascertain truth and to establish a synthesis, it becomes 
necessary to choose and to consider with care which 
m^ethod is likely to prove the more sure and fruitful 
of results. The first method is the one almost exclusively 
employed as the foundation for current theories. Its 



use follows on an unquestioned dogma of contemporary 
science. Before deciding which method to employ, let 
us now look somewhat closely at some of the established 
results to which this method has actually led. 

In a philosophic study of the phenomena of life, 
if we proceed from the apex to the base, from man to 
the superior animals, and from them to inferior types, 
we are constrained to admit that Consciousness is that 
which is most important in all life, because it is that 
which is most important in man. We are then led to 
discover that consciousness, with all that it implies, 
extends, with a narrowing field, down to the least 
evolved animals, in which it exists merely in outline. 

If, on the contrary, we proceed from the base to 
the summit, the conclusion that we draw from the 
phenomena of life is an opposite one. It is the con- 
clusion that Le Dantec, among others, has endeavoured 
to bring out.^ 

The chemical reactions of their environment suffice 
to determine the vital phenomena of animals very low 
down in the scale. The ' ascending * method therefore 
permits of the affirmation that in all the phenomena 
of life, even those of the superior animals, it is use- 
less to seek for anything but the result of chemical 
reactions. Even the specific form of an animal is for 
Le Dantec, as we shall see, merely a function of these 

The plastidia show rigid chemical determinism, 
and there is no reason to attribute to them either will 
or liberty of action. It would follow that bio-chemical 
determinism is the same in the entire animal series; 
and will or liberty, even in man, is but illusion. 

The notion of an animal consciousness is superfluous 
for the plastidia; if therefore it exists for superior 
animals it can be only an epiphenomenon * resulting 

* L« Dantec : DSterminisme Biologique. 
?A sequential or a secondary phenomenon. 



from the chemical reactions which are the essential 

In fine, as according to all evidence, animals as low 
in the scale as the sponges and the corals, are but a 
mere complex of elementary lives, the inference follows 
that even a very complex and highly evolved animal 
apparently highly centralised, is but an analogous 
complex, existing and maintaining itself by affinity or 
molecular cohesion, without the aid of a superior and 
independent dynamism. 

Such is the reasoning and such are the conclusions 
of the * ascending * method. Are these conclusions 
true or false ? 

The reasoning is rigorous and flawless. If the 
conclusions are false, it can only be that the method is 

We shall see by all that follows in the present work, 
that in spite of the rigour of the reasoning, the results 
of the method are such as cannot be accepted, and are 
often absurd. 

It is easy to establish this without going outside 
the domain of biology. As an example of an induction 
at once absurd and inevitable from the ascending method, 
take sensibility. 

We know by experience that we possess sensibility. 
We infer that sensibility pertains to humanity. Taking 
this apex as our point of departure, we judge that 
superior animals also possess this sensibility because 
their manifestations of pain or pleasure resemble our 

If we descend the animal scale, the manifestations 
are less defined, and, in the lower animals, are of doubtful 

* The signs of pain,* says Richet,* * do not suffice 

for the affirmation that there is pain. When the foot 

of a decapitated frog is pinched, the animal struggles 

> Richet : Psychologie Gin^aU, 



with all the external signs of pain, just as if it were 
suffering. When an earthworm is cut in two both 
pieces move convulsively. Are we to say that both are 
suffering, or what appears to me much more rational, 
rather to think that the traumatism^ has set up a 
violent reflex action } * 

Therefore if we attribute sensibility to animals low 
in the scale, it is by a descending induction. Our 
reasoning goes from the summit to the base. 

Let us proceed inversely : if, setting aside our own 
personal experience, we consider the very inferior animals, 
we shall be logically obliged to deny them sensibility, 
since all their reactions can be explained by reflexes. 
Sensibility to pleasure or pain is for them an unnecessary 
hypothesis, and conformably to the principle of method- 
ology known as economy of hypothesis, it should be 
put aside. 

But then, why admit this sensibility in the highest 
animals ? Here also everything can be explained by 
reflexes. As Richet observes, the yelp of a beaten dog, 
may, strictly speaking, be only a reflex movement 1 
And this reasoning is not absurd, since it is Cartesian. 
Nevertheless, pushed to the negation of human sensi- 
bility it becomes untenable. It impels us to place man, 
as did Descartes, outside animal life; which is evidently 
a gross and dangerous mistake. 

Thus the method which consists in starting from 
the base in order to explain one of the essential vital 
principles is convicted of flagrant error. It is therefore 
under suspicion for all the rest. No doubt it will be 
objected that the contrary method may also lead us 
astray: as, for instance, says Le Dantec,^ 'the famous 
observation of Carter, in which an amoeba lay in wait 
for a young Acineta about to detach itself from the 

* Traumatism — the state of being wounded. 

! Le Dantec : Le Diterminisme Biologiqus, 


maternal body. The Acineta is a protozoon armed in 
its adult state with venomous tentacles particularly 
dangerous to the amoeba; but these tentacles are not 
found on the young Acineta, and the amoeba observed 
by Carter knew that the young one about to leave 
the maternal body would be eatable during the early 
days of its existence.* 

The error is comical: but every one must see that 
it is entirely insignificant from the philosophic point 
of view, and disappears automatically before the new 
knowledge relating to instinct. This error, bearing 
only on a point of detail, does not in any way attaint the 
descending induction which allows a relative conscious- 
ness to all animal life. Even if the extension of the 
induction to the lower animals were arbitrary, it would 
have no importance: there is no serious drawback in 
attributing to them, even arbitrarily, rudimentary con- 
sciousness and sensibility. 

On the other hand, the errors of the ascending 
method are flagrant, since they would go so far as to deny 
that consciousness and sensibility to superior animals! 
The justice of Auguste Comte's remark is evident : * As 
soon as we are dealing with the characteristics of animal 
life, we ought to take Man as our starting point, and 
see how his characteristics lower in the scale little by 
little, rather than start from the sponge and seek how 
they develop. The animal life of man helps us to 
understand that of the sponge, but the converse is not 

Passing from biology to psychology, let us consider, 
for instance, the phenomena attributed to subconscious- 
ness which will have so large a place in the present work. 
There, more than anywhere else, the contrast between 
the two methods will be manifest. 

In a study which appeared in the Annates des Sciences 
Psychiques I recommended the synthetic method as 
applicable to the philosophy of the phenomena of 



subconsciousness. I endeavoured to show that only 
the study of the more complex phenomena would admit 
of a generalisation ; while a study, however profound, of 
the elementary phenomena would always remain incapable 
of leading to any clear view of the whole. I concluded 
that from the specially philosophic standpoint, the study 
and comprehension of the higher phenomena alone can 
be of capital importance.^ 

This statement of methodology has brought on me 
some lively attacks, especially from M. Boirac* 

M. Boirac affirms, as Le Dantec does with regard 
to biological phenomena, that one should study and 
interpret from the base to the summit, first dealing 
with elementary phenomena and then with those more 
and more complex. 

In support of his idea he adduces the following 
analogy: to seek to understand the higher subconscious 
phenomena before understanding the elementary ones 
IS as illogical as to seek to understand the phenomenon 
of globular lightning before grasping elementary electrical 

To this I might reply that it is one thing to study 
electrical phenomena and even to apply them practically, 
and quite another to understand the essential nature of 
electricity. Our understanding of electricity, that is 
our philosophical comprehension of it, rests, and will 
continue to rest, on provisional hypotheses until we have 
understood its most complex manifestations. 

Further, nothing is more easy than to oppose one 
analogy to another! Here is one which I borrow from 
J. Loeb : — 

* It is expressly to be noticed, however, that in all matters concerning 
the subconscious, the elementary and the complex phenomena are equally 
unexplained. Whichever we take as our point of departure, we proceed 
from the unknown to the unknown. The Cartesian principle therefore 
cannot be advanced against our method. 

* Boirac : Annales des Sciences Psychiques,' and L'Avenir des Etudes 

xvii ■ 


* Physicists are lucky never to have known the 
method of sections and dyes. What would have 
been the result if by chance a steam engine had 
fallen into the hands of a histological physicist ? 
What thousands of sections horizontal and vertical, 
stained in various ways, how many diagrams and 
figures might have been made, without arriving at 
an indubitable conclusion that the machine is a 
heat engine and is used to transform heat into 
motion 1 * (Quoted by Dastre.) 

This comparison places the characteristics of the 
two methods in a strong light. 

The method of restricted analyses and profound 
study of details is extremely useful in scientific research, 
but is without philosophical value. The method of 
general synthesis is the only one suitable to scientific 
philosophy for it alone can bring out what is really 
important in a given order of facts. The boiler and the 
motor mechanism are the truly important parts in the 
steam-engine. W^hen this mechanism has been under- 
stood there will be no difficulty in understanding the 
part played in the accessory details, the wheels and the 
brakes. But it would be folly to seek to understand 
the locomotive by a study, however complete, of a 
detached bolt or the spoke of a wheel! 

Psychologists who rest in the systematic study of 
small facts are obviously like to the * histological 
physicists * : both end in similar impotence. 

I conclude: From the philosophical point of view, 
(the one to which I confine myself) and in a given 
order of facts, only the comprehension of the higher 
facts is important, for it includes, a fortiori^ that of all 
others. Consequently the descending method only, 
starting from those higher facts, is the fruitful one. 

Moreover, we judge the tree by its fruit: it is, as 
we shall see, by that method alone that all the phenomena 



of life and consciousness, all collective and individual 
evolution, and even the meaning of the universe, can 
be understood. 

By the analytical and ascending method, on the 
contrary, we reach nothing but the serious errors in 
generalisation which have vitiated all contemporary 
philosophy, if, indeed, we do not lose ourselves in an 
unmeaning verbalism. 

In seeking to draw general conclusions from elemen- 
tary phenomena we are driven to deny sensibility to 
animals and to reduce consciousness to an epiphenom- 
enon. By taking minor hypnotoid or hysteriform 
manifestations as our starting point in the study of 
psychological facts, we end by reducing the whole of 
subconscious psychology, even the highest, to automatism 
or suggestibility. 

Worse still, by blind fidelity to a barren method, 
some very fine minds are doomed to impotence, and 
waste their time and trouble in inventing or changing 
mere labels; and failing to capture the general idea 
they fall back on the invention of * Pythiatism * or 
'Metagnomy '* . . . 

The method here chosen offers two essential criteria 
as guides — one critical, the other practical. 

The critical criterion will permit us to consider as 
false and to reject without further examination, every 
explanation or hypothesis which in a connected order 
of facts, is adapted to a part only of these facts, and not 
to all, especially to the more complex. 

The practical criterion will prescribe the systematic 
and immediate study of the highest and most complex 
in any given order of connected facts. 

Whether the matter in hand be universal evolution 
and naturalistic theories, physiological or psychological 
individuality, or even questions of high philosophy, we 

^Pythiatism : pertaining to the Pythian Apollo. Metagnomy : (from 
Gr. yv(i>M-Vi thought) =beyoud thought. 



shall therefore begin by first attacking the more complex 
facts, these being really the only important ones ; putting 
aside for the moment the mere trivialities of elementary 
and simple facts, which, in the sequel, will explain 

Instead of plodding through this dust of elementary 
facts which by beclouding our ascent, retard it, we 
shall advance to the heights, from whence, after a wide 
view over the whole accessible area, we may descend 
at leisure to explore local particulars. 

The present work falls naturally into two principal 
parts : — 

Book I. is a critical study of the classical theories 
relating to evolution, to physiological individuality, to 
psychological individuality, and to the principal evolu- 
tionary philosophies, and at the same time it is a forecast 
of the essential inductions of Book II. 

Book II. is the actual statement of our scientific 







Classical Naturalistic Theories of Evolution 
















The Classical Psycho-Physiological Concept of the 
































§ 3. LUCIDITY 98 











§6. M. ribot's theory 118 













OLOGY 132 











Philosophical Theories of Evolution 
























§ I. Schopenhauer's demonstration 189 

§ 2. Schopenhauer's pessimism 193 









Individual Evolution — The Transition from Unconscious- 
ness to Consciousness in the Individual 


















SELF 234 









§ 5. HYSTERIA 251 


§ 7. HYPNOTISM 254 







The Evolution of the Universe — Transition from the 
Unconscious to the Conscious in the Universe 













The Consequences : Optimism or Pessimism ? 

















Although evolution, considered as a whole, constitutes 
to-day the most firmly established of all the great scientific 
hypotheses, it nevertheless presents some serious diffi- 
culties in its systematisation and its philosophy. 

The principle of evolutionary theory, based as it is 
on leading facts of the natural sciences, defies any 
honest attempt at refutation. 

Nevertheless, there are, in the doctrine of trans- 
formability as taught up to the present, weak points 
and serious lacuna, on which its enemies base their 
hopes. No longer daring to attack it from the front, 
they hope to turn its flank. 

It would be therefore, not only puerile, but also 
dangerous from a philosophic point of view, to deny 
or to dissimulate these weak points and defects. It is 
well on the contrary to seek for their origin and their 
explanation by placing them in full light. 

The objections to the evolutionary theory put 
forward in this work are not, I repeat, objections to the 
principle. They do not aim at the fact of evolution. 
They are, however, serious because they displace the 
two pillars on which transformability has been erected, 
that is to say, the classical notions of ultimate cause and 
manner of effect. 

The mechanism of evolution is now found to need 
revision. This mechanism, as is well known, arose 
from two great hypotheses — those of Darwin and 

The Darwinian hypothesis assigned an essential 
function to natural selection, that is, the survival of the 
fittest in the struggle for life; the fittest being' those 

5 c 


which distinguish themselves from their congeners by 
some physical or psychological advantage relative to 
the vital necessities of the environment, this advantage 
having appeared by chance. 

The Lamarckian hypothesis assigned a primary 
function to the influence of the environment, to the use 
or disuse of organs ; making the environment (at need) 
even the origin of new functions and new organs. 

These two classical causes, perfectly reconcilable 
or even complementary, necessarily implied the notion 
of slow, imperceptible, and innumerable modifications 
leading to the progressive formation of diverse species 
from one or more primitive forms up to man. 

To these two general hypotheses, there have been 
added in our day, countless secondary theories intended 
either to establish special laws, such as those of heredity, 
or to combat the ceaselessly renewed and multiplied 
objections which a rigorous analysis of facts has brought 
against the classical concept of transformism. 

Among these theories, some connect with Darwin, 
some with Lamarck, others eclectically with both 
systems. Some carry purely mechanical explanations; 
others rise to dynamical concepts; a few even trench 
on the domain of metaphysics.* 

On all of them the same general judgment may be 
passed: they show prodigious ingenuity and an even 
more prodigious impotence. 

I shall not discuss these theories nor their claims 
to explain the difficulties of transformism.* 

The innumerable arguments which have been in- 
voked in various connections for or against transformism, 
for or against the classic naturalism, relating as they 

' Cf . specially Delage and Goldsmith : Les TMories de revolution 
(published by Flammarion), and Deperret, Les Transformations du Monde 

'Transformism. This term is advisedly used by Huxley to express 
the general fact, as distinguished from particular concrete transformations 
or abstract transformability. — [Translator's note.] 



do to secondary matters, do not carry conviction or 
lead to a conclusion. 

Conformably to the method explained above, I shall 
neglect these arguments on details and only consider 
immediately and directly the essential and primordial 
difficulties, which are the only real difficulties, of 
transformism. The secondary imperfections of the 
naturalistic edifice matter little; the essential is to 
ascertain whether the body of this edifice, its framework 
and keystones, are strong or weak. 

There are five capital difficulties in classical trans- 
formism, viz.: — 

1 . The failure of the classical factors to explain the 

origin of species. 

2. The failure of the classical factors to explain the 

origin of instincts. 

3. The failure of the classical factors to explain the 

abrupt and creative transformations of new 

4. The failure of the classical factors to explain the 

immediate and definitive * crystallisation * of 
the essential characteristics of new species or new 
instincts — the fact that these characteristics, in 
their main outlines, are very rapidly acquired 
and once acquired, remain immutable. 

5. The failure of the classical factors to resolve the 

general philosophic difficulty with regard to 
evolution, which makes the complex proceed 
from the simple and the greater from the less. 
Let us now study these five essential difficulties. 



It is not difficult to show that neither the Darwinian 
nor the Lamarckian hypothesis enables us to understand 
the origin of characteristics that constitute a new 

Let us take the Darwinian hypothesis first. 

Natural selection, considered as an essential factor of 
transformism, has grave obstacles to overcome, obstacles 
of principle and obstacles of fact. It is unnecessary 
to discuss them all, for one alone, the gravest, suffices to 
demonstrate the impotence of the system. It is this : — 

In order that any given modification occurring in 
the characteristics of a species or an individual, should 
give to that species or to that individual an appreciable 
advantage in the struggle for life, it is evident that this 
modification must he sufficiently marked to he utilisahle. 

Now an embryonic organ, a modification merely 
adumbrated, appearing by chance in a being or a group 
of beings, can be of no practical use and give them no 

The bird comes from the reptile. Now an embryonic 
wing, appearing by chance, one knows neither how nor 
why, in the ancestral reptile, could not give that reptile 
the capacity or the advantage of flight, and would give 
it no superiority over other reptiles unprovided with the 
unusable rudiment. It is therefore impossible to attribute 
to natural selection the transition from reptile to bird. 

The batrachian comes from the fish. There is no 

* It is needless on the other hand to emphasise further how alien to 
science and philosophy alike it is to make chance the principal factor of 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

doubt of this, since we see this evolution renew itself 
in the life of the tadpole by a series of changes, perfecting 
the heart, causing lungs to appear, and developing legs. 
But rudiments of legs and lungs would give no 
advantage to a fish which might possess them. In order 
to have an advantage over its congeners, it is indispen- 
sable that its heart, lungs, and organs of locomotion 
should be already sufficiently developed to allow it to 
live out of the water; as the tadpole does, once its evolu- 
tion is complete, but not till then. 

The embryonic transformations of insects are more 
striking still. There is such an abyss between the 
anatomy and the physiology of the larva and that of the 
perfect insect, that it is evidently impossible to find in 
natural selection the explanation of its ancestral evolu- 
tion. ^ 

Alive to the validity of this objection, certain neo- 
Darwinians have not hesitated to call in the Lamarckian 
theory of the influence of the environment and to refer 
such modifications as are creative of new species to the 
joint influence of adaptation and selection. 

This theory, known as organic selection, has been 
formulated by Baldwin and Osborn in America, and 
by Lloyd Morgan in England. It may be summed up 
as follows: — 

If the variation appearing by chance should coincide 
or agree with an identical variation due to the environing 
conditions, this variation will be reinforced by the double 
influence. Thenceforward it may be sufficiently marked 
to allow selection to come in. 

Delage and Goldsmith raise the objection, that * if 
the inborn variation is at first too slightly marked 

* The larva of the insect does not exactly represent the primitive 
insect, for the larva has undergone important changes following on 
adaptations necessitated by its modes of existence. But even if we ignore 
these secondary modifications, there is still undeniably a vast abyss 
between what the primitive Insect was and the evolved insect is. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

to give any advantage, and if in the definitive 
constitution of the animal, ontogenetic^ adaptation 
plays the greatest part, this adaptation will be pro- 
duced both in the individuals possessing the inborn 
variation in question and in those devoid of it. 

Would then the premium due to general variation 
suffice to ensure survival of the one at the expense 
of the other ? Most probably not, for, were it 
otherwise, that variation alone would have sufficed.* 

To this theory a still more definite objection may be 
made: even admitting that the original variation might 
be reinforced and doubled, or even tripled, it will none 
the less be a very small variation. It will therefore never 
explain the appearance of certain forms of life, such as 
the bird form. An embryo wing, even exuberant in 
type, would none the less be unusable, giving no 
superiority to the ancestral reptile. 

Indeed this theory of organic selection adds nothing 
to the Lamarckian doctrine which we will now examine. 

According to this doctrine it is adaptation to new 
conditions that brings about the formation of new species. 
The origin of the creative modification is not due to 
chance, but to need. The ultimate development of new 
and characteristic organs comes by the repeated use of 
these organs, and their atrophy by disuse. 

Thus a series of adaptations produces a corresponding 
series of minor variations, at first very small, but cumula- 
tive till they produce major transformations. 

The Lamarckian theory has been adopted by the 
great majority of contemporary naturalists, who endeavour 
to reduce all transformism to the influence of the 

The systems of Cope^ and Packard' in America, 

* Ontogenetic. Gr. rd ivra., existing things ; fheai^, generation; 
individual development as distinguished from genealogical development. 

* Cope : The Primary Factor of Organic Evolution. 

* Packard : Lamarck, the Founder oj Evolution; His Life and Work, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

of Giard and Le Dantec in France, are Lamarckian 

Packard has summed up the causes of variation as 
8een by him as follows. 

Neo-Lamarckism acknowledges and unites the 
factors of the school of Saint Hilaire and those of 
Lamarck as containing the most fundamental causes 
of variation ; it adds to these geographical isolation, 
or segregation (Wagner and Gulick), the effects of 
weight, of currents of air and water, the mode of 
life, fixed, sedentary, or per contra^ active ; the results 
of tension and of contact (Payder, Cope, and Osborn), 
the principle of a change of function as bringing 
about the appearance of new structures, (Dohrn), the 
effects of parasitism, commensalism^ and symbiosis,* 
in short, of the biological environment, as well as 
natural and sexual selection and hybridism. In 
fine, all conceivable primary factors. 

Cope has made a special endeavour to explain the 
appearance of variations by the action of these primary 
factors. He refers variations to two essential causes. 
The first is the direct effect of the environment, and 
to all the factors above enumerated Cope gives the 
general name oiphysiogenesis. The second is the influence 
of the use or disuse of organs, the physiological reactions 
produced in the animal in response to exciting causes 
in the environment. Cope calls this kinetogenesis. 

This second cause would be of the first importance, 
and Cope brings this out by his study of palaeontology. 
He adduces innumerable examples in support of his 
thesis. One of the best known is the formation of the 
foot by adaptation to speed, in plantigrade, and more 
especially digitograde, quadrupeds, with the characteristic 

* Identity of food. • Living together. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

progressive reduction in the number of the digits 
in the latter. The horse, for example, by its adaptation 
to speed, has but one digit, the median, much hyper- 
trophied and terminated by a thick layer of horn, and two 
rudimentary metacarpals accessible only by dissection; 
but the reduction in the number and size of the lateral 
digits is seen in the evolutionary series of its ancestors. 

The formation of the articulations of the foot and 
hand of mammals is equally typical. He observes 
as follows: 

The articulation of the foot, which is very strong, 
presents two processes of the astragalus, the leading 
bone of the foot, which project into two corresponding 
sockets of the tibia, and a process of this latter fitting 
into a socket of the astragalus. This structure does 
not (as yet) exist either in the inferior vertebrates, 
such as reptiles, or in the ancestral mammals of each 
of the great living branches; it has been formed 
little by little, by reason of a certain mode of move- 
ment and a certain attitude of the animal. 

The external walls of these bones being formed 
of stronger material than their central parts, the 
sequence of development would seem to be as 
follows: the astragalus is narrower than the tibia 
which rests upon it, therefore the peripheral parts 
of the former bone, being in contact not with equally 
resisting parts of the latter but with portions relatively 
softer, these, under this pressure, have suffered a 
certain absorption of their substance, and two 
depressions corresponding to the two edges of the 
astragalus have been formed. This is precisely what 
would be produced in more or less plastic, inert 
substances under continuous pressure. 

The central depression in the upper edge of the 
astragalus arises from a similar cause. Here the 
inferior extremity of the tibia, having a relatively 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

slight resisting power, rests on a similarly weak 
portion of the astragalus and is liable to continual 
shocks. The consequence of such shocks must cause 
the malleable parts of the bones to take the form 
corresponding to the direction in which the weight 
acts; a protuberance above and a depression below 
will be formed. This is exactly what has resulted 
in the tibia and the astragalus. From the tertiary 
period up to our own day we can follow the formation 
of this articulation: first, as in the Periptychtis 
rhahdodon of Mexico, a flat astragalus; then a slight 
concavity more and more accentuated into an actual 
socket (Poebrotherium lahiatum of Colorado), and 
finally a protuberance penetrating into a concavity 
of the tibia completes the articulation appears in 
the Prothippus sejunctus, the ancestor of the present 
horse. (Quoted by Delage and Goldsmith.) 

Cope, however, does not confine himself to mechanical 
concepts. He admits in evolution a kind of * energy 
of growth * not well defined, which he calls * bathmism,' ^ 
an energy which would appear to be transmitted by the 
germinal cells, and would constitute that true vital 
dynamism which alone can enable us to understand 
how ' function makes the organ.* 

Dantec, on the other hand, who also maintains the 
Lamarckian doctrine, adheres to pure mechanism. He 
bases evolution on what he calls * functional assimilation.* 
According to this system, living matter, instead of being 
used up and destroyed by functioning, as was taught 

^ From the Greek /3atf/ios = a step or threshold. 'It is here left open 
whether there is any form of force which may be especially designated 
as 'vital.' Many of the animal functions are known to be physical and 
chemical, and if there is any one which appears to be less explicable by 
reference to these forces than the others, it is that of nutrition. Probably 
in this instance, force has been so metamorphosed through the influence 
of the originative or conscious force in evolution, that it is a distinct 
species in the category of forces. Assuming it to be such, I have given 
it the name of Bathmism.' — E. D. Cope, Meth. tf Creation, p. 26. — 
[Translator's note.] 


"From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

by physiologists of the school of CI. Bernard, develops 
by functioning. That which is worn and expended is 
merely reserve material, such as fat, the sugar of the 
tissues, etc. ; but the living matter itself, such as muscle, 
increases by use. 

He maintains that it is in virtue of this * functional 
assimilation ' that adaptation to environment and con- 
secutive progress take place. 

However this may be, it is evident that the Lamarckian 
doctrine is infinitely more satisfying than the Darwinian. 

But is it completely so } By no means. 

It can account for the appearance of a number of 
secondary organic details and more or less important 
modifications, such as the atrophy of the eye of the 
mole, the hypertrophy of the median digit in the 
Equidae, or the special structure of the articulations of 
the foot; but, as a general theory, it is assuredly false, 
because it is powerless to explain the more important facts. 

It does not explain the major transformations which 
have been considered in our criticism of the Darwinian 

Confronted with these, Lamarckianism is as power- 
less as Darwinism, because these transformations imply 
radical, and so to speak immediate, changes, and not an 
accumulation of small and slow modifications. 

The transition from an aquatic to a terrestrial mode 
of life, and from a terrestrial to an aerial, can by no 
means be regarded as results of adaptation. 

The ancestral species, adapted to very special 
surroundings, had no need to change them, and had 
they felt the need, would have been unable to meet it. 
How could the reptilian ancestor of the bird adapt 
itself to surroundings which were not its own and 
could only become its own after it had passed from the 
reptilian to the bird form } Before possessing usable 
(not embryonic) wings, it could not have an aerial life 
to which to adapt itself. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

The same line of reasoning applies, of course, to the 
transition from the fish to the batrachian. 

But it is in the evolution of the insect that the 
impossibility of transformation by adaptation is yet more 
obvious. There is no connection between the biology 
of the larva, which represents, to some degree at any 
rate, the primitive state of the ancestral insect, and the 
biology of the perfect insect form. One cannot even 
conceive by what mysterious series of adaptations an 
insect, accustomed to larval life, underground or in 
water, could succeed in gradually creating for itself 
wings for an aerial life, closed to it and doubtless unknown. 

When, further, one considers that this mysterious 
series of adaptations would have had to take place, not 
once, by a kind of * natural miracle,' but as many times 
as there are genera of winged insects, it becomes as 
hopeless to deduce the appearance of these species from 
Lamarckian as from Darwinian factors. 

This point is in fact self-evident. Plate himself 
perfectly understood the impossibility of explaining these 
major transformations by * adaptation,* when he wrote 
that * by the very fact that an animal belongs to a certain 
group, the possibilities of variation are restrained, and in 
many cases, restrained within very narrow limits.' 

Therefore Lamarckianism and Darwinism are alike 
incapable of giving a general explanation applicable to 
all cases, of the appearance of new species. If the 
majority of biologists who hold to transformism do 
not yet admit this, there are, nevertheless, those who do, 
and endeavour to find elsewhere a superior factor in 
evolution which may get over the difficulties inherent in 
the classical evolutionary theories. 

Some neo-Lamarckians, such as Pauly, attribute to 
the constituent elements of the organism, to the organism 
itself, to plants, and to minerals, a kind of profound 
consciousness which might originate all modifications 
and all adaptations. At all steps of the evolutionary 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

scale they see a continuous and intentional effort towards 

Nageli is still more precise: according to him the 
organism includes two kinds of plasm: the nutritive, 
common to all species and not differentiated; and the 
specific, or idio-plasm. 

This idio-plasm would contain not only the micellian 
fasciculi which characterise it, but also an internal 
evolutionary tendency with all the capacities and poten- 
tialities for transformation and perfectibility. This 
potentiality must have existed in the first living forms 
from the very beginnings of life. External factors hence- 
forth would only facilitate adaptation; but would of 
themselves be incapable of initiating evolution. They 
would but aid and favour evolution, and bring it under 
their special rhythm. 

These concepts of Nageli's are extremely interesting. 
They eventuate in the conclusion that evolution has 
come about, not by the influence of the environment, 
but conformably to it. 

Adaptation appears in all cases as a consequence, 
sometimes as a determining factor, but never as a 
sufficient and essential cause. 

An impartial study of the modifications which 
originate species leads necessarily to this conclusion. 
But such a concept is absolutely contrary to classical 



It is well known that the instincts of animals are as 
innumerable as they are marvellous. They have in 
common the characteristic that they allow the creature 
to act spontaneously, without reasoned thought, without 
hesitation or groping, and to attain the desired end with a 
certainty with which neither reason, nor training, nor 
impulse, can compare. 

Thanks to instinct, an animal of any given species 
always acts conformably to the genius of its kind, some- 
times in a very complex manner, for attack, defence, 
subsistence, reproduction, and so forth. The essential 
instinct is identical in all the individuals of the same 
species, and seems as refractory to variation as the 
species itself. For each species it constitutes a psychical 
characteristic as well defined as the physical. 

Now the origin of instincts is no more explicable 
by natural selection or by the influence of the environ- 
ment than the formation of species. This can be best 
observed in the insect. Fabre has done imperishable 
work in this direction, and it is to his writings that we 
must refer in order to understand the characteristic 
variety, complexity, and sureness of these instincts, as 
well as the impossibility of explaining them by the 
classical notions. 

A few examples will suffice. Take, for instance, the 
Sitaris, quoted by Bergson as one of the most remark- 

* The Sitaris deposits its eggs at the entrance of the 
holes which a certain species of bee, the Anthophora, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

digs in the earth. The larva of the Sitaris, after a long 
wait, seeks the male anthophora as he leaves the gallery, 
fastens on him and remains attached until his nuptial 
flight; it then profits by the occasion to pass from the 
male to the female and waits until the latter lays her 
eggs. It then fastens on the egg, which will support 
it in the honey, devours the egg in a few days, and 
resting on the empty shell, undergoes its first trans- 

* Now organised to float on the honey, it becomes 
first a grub, and then a perfect insect. Everything 
happens as if the larva of the Sitaris when hatched knew 
that the male anthophora will emerge first from the hole, 
that the nuptial flight will give an opportunity of passing 
to the female, that this latter will convey it to a reserve 
of honey fit for its nourishment when transformed, and 
that previous to that metamorphosis it will have fed on 
the Qgg, so that the empty shell may float with it on the 
surface of the honey, and incidentally that it will suppress 
the rival which would have come from the egg. And 
similarly everything comes to pass as if the Sitaris knew 
that its larva would know all these things.* 

Another classical example is that of the hunting 
hymenoptera. The larva of these insects requires a 
motionless and living prey; motionless, because any 
defensive movements might imperil the delicate egg 
and afterwards the tiny grub developing in one part 
of the caterpillar; and living, because this grub cannot 
subsist on dead matter. 

To realise this double necessity for its larva, the 
hymenopteron must paralyse the victim without killing 
it. If the insect acted from reason this operation would 
need extraordinary knowledge and skill. It would first 
have to proportion the dose of poison so as to administer 
just enough to paralyse without killing; and further, 
still more important, it should have a knowledge of the 
anatomy and physiology of the caterpillar and an infallible 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

sureness of action to strike at once on the right spot 
by surprise, for the prey is often formidably armed and 
stronger than the aggressor. 

The poisoned sting must therefore be directed with 
certainty on the motor nervous centres, and there only. 
One, two, or several stabs are needed, according to the 
number or concentration of the nerve-ganglions. This 
function, so unerringly exercised by the insect, has not 
been learned. When the hymenopteron tears its cocoon 
and emerges from underground, its parents and prede- 
cessors have been long dead, and the insect itself will 
perish without seeing its progeny or its successors. The 
instinct cannot therefore be transmitted by example nor 
by training. It is innate. 

How can the origin of this instinct be explained by 
any of the classical factors of evolution } 

Instinct, we are told, is but a habit acquired little by 
little and transmitted by heredity. 

Fabre laid himself out to demonstrate the impossi- 
bility of this concept. 

Some sand-wasp in the long distant past, would 
have reached, by chance, the nerve-centres of a 
grub, benefiting by the act partly herself by avoiding 
a struggle not devoid of danger, and partly for her 
larva, provided with fresh game, alive but harmless. 
She must then have endowed her race, by heredity, 
with the propensity to repeat these advantageous 
tactics. The maternal gift would not have favoured 
all her descendant's equally . . . then would have 
followed the struggle for life . . . the weaker 
would have succumbed, the strong would have 
prospered, and from age to age, selection in conjunc- 
tion with life would have transformed the fugitive 
impression of the first act into the deep, ineffaceable 
instinct at which we marvel in the hymenoptera of 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

That selection (Darwinian hypothesis) or re- 
peated exercise (Lamarckian hypothesis), may have 
reinforced and perfected these instincts is possible 
or even probable. But according to Fabre, neither 
the one nor the other can explain the origin of the 
instinct itself. 

Neither chance nor need can explain how the 
sting of the primitive insect found at once, without 
trials, the nerve-ganglion, and was able to paralyse 
without killing. Actually * there was no reason 
for a choice : the stabs had to be given on the upper 
surface, on the lower surface, on the side, from the 
front, from behind, at random, according to the 
chances of a struggle . . . and how many points 
are there on the skin and interior of a gray cater- 
pillar } Rigorous mathematics would reply : An 
infinity.* Nevertheless the sting must strike once 
and infallibly: 'the art of provisioning the larva 
requires a master, and cannot admit apprenticeship. 
The wasp must excel from the first or make no 
attempt ... no middle term, no half-success will 
suffice.* Either the caterpillar is operated upon 
exactly, or the death of the aggressor and therefore 
of her descendants ensues. But this is not all: 
* Let the desired end be attained ; only half the 
work is done. A second c^g is required to complete 
the future pair and give progeny. Therefore, at a 
few days* or hours* interval, a second stab must be 
given as luckily placed as the first. This is to repeat 
the impossibility and raise it to the second power! * 

It is true that these conclusions by Fabre have 
recently been impugned as too absolute. Researches 
by Marchal, by Peckham, by Perez, and by most con- 
temporary naturalists, seem to demonstrate that the 
primary instincts, in some of their details at least, are 
variable and perfectible. 

21 D 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

But the primordial difficulty — ^the origin of the 
primary instinct — still remains in its entirety. Even if 
it be possible to attribute the appearance of secondary 
instincts or the various modes of primary ones to the 
operation of the classical factors, the origin of these 
primary instincts is as difficult to discover as the origin 
of species. 

The instinct to use the poisoned sting puts the 
same problem as the origin of the sting itself. Neither 
the organ nor the instinct can play a useful part as agents 
of adaptation or selection till sufficiently developed and 
perfected. Therefore, as for species, so for instincts, 
neither adaptation nor selection can be an essential or 
creative factor. 



Lamarckism, like Darwinism, lays down the thesis of 
very small, slow, and innumerable modifications as 
necessary to the progressive genesis of species. 

This concept, which has been accepted as a dogma, 
would seem above controversy. When, recently, De 
Vries made known his observations on what he called 
* mutations,* i.e. the abrupt appearance of new vegetable 
species from the ancestral species, without any inter- 
mediate transitional forms, he threw all those interested 
in philosophical naturalism into confusion and disorder. 

For several years a curious spectacle was presented. 

The fact of mutation supplied the doctrine of 
transformability with the only proof that was lacking 
— experimental verification. Nevertheless it was seen, 
on the one hand, that transformists endeavoured to 
minimise the importance of the new facts and the scope 
of the new theory; and on the other, naive adversaries 
adopted it with enthusiasm, both imagining that the 
ruin of the classical teaching would involve the ruin of 
the evolutionary idea also! 

Le Dantec, in his book, La Crise du Transformisme^ 
thus expresses himself. 

* A new theory based on verified experiments has 
seen the light a few years since, and has made 
numerous converts in the domain of the natural 
sciences. But this theory of mutations or abrupt 
variations is the negation of Lamarckism; I might 

* Published by F61ix Alcan (Paris). 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

almost say that it is the negation of transformism 

He adds, * In fact, from a philosophical point 
of view, transformism is the system which explains 
the progressive and spontaneous appearance of mar- 
vellously co-ordinated living mechanisms, such as 
those of Man and the higher animals.* 

It will be seen in the sequel that the spontaneous 
appearance of living beings is a philosophical impossi- 
bility. The progressive appearance of such beings is in 
no way traversed by the theory of mutations. 

It is only the hypothetical machinery, the supposed 
genesis of progressive transformations, which is in 
formal opposition to the new facts. 

Le Dantec, and the naturalists of his school who 
identify transformism with its classical factors, are in 
some measure logical when they seek to limit as much 
as possible the area of mutations. But the evolutionary 
idea itself has nothing to fear from the new discoveries; 
rather the contrary, as I shall endeavour to prove. 

Moreover, Le Dantec is almost alone in his opinion 
when he affirms that mutations affect secondary, and 
mainly ornamental, characteristics only, * leaving the 
hereditary patrimony intact.* 

Since the experiments by De Vries, very many new 
observations have been published, and the palmary 
importance of mutation is no longer denied, or indeed 

The only question that remains is to ascertain whether 
mutation is, in fact, the rule, or an exception. De Vries 
states clearly that abrupt transformation is the rule, for 
animals as for plants; and he may well be right. In 
fact if the whole history of transformations on the 
evolutionary scale is closely examined, it will be found 

* Cf . Blaringhem, Les Transformations Brusques des Etres Vivants.-^ 
(Publ. Flammarion, Paris.) 


From the Uncomdous to the Conscious 

that the theory of mutations is strikingly confirmed. 
By its Hght, and with closer study, truths which have 
been ignored or unconsciously slurred over become 
immediately obvious. 

These truths had, however, been already stated by 
great naturalists such as Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire; but 
they made no way, and the thesis of slow transformations 
found no one to contradict it until the work of De Vries 

Starting from his theory of mutations, Cope resumed 
the study of fossil forms, more especially of the 
batrachians and mammals of America, and he found 
no difficulty in demonstrating the probability of their 
progressive variation by abrupt mutations. 

It is, moreover, easy, on the data of the palaeonto- 
logical records which are * the archives of creation,' to 
verify that the appearance of most of the main species, 
always seems to be abrupt. 

Batrachians, reptiles, birds, and mammals suddenly 
appear in the geologic strata. Once there, they seem 
very rapidly to acquire the characteristics which they will 
subsequently retain without any essential modification 
as long as the species remains in existence. 

No doubt, palaeontology presents transitional forms. 
But these are rare, and (a more serious matter) they 
seem to be intermediary rather than transitional. 

For example, let us take the archeopteryx, the most 
remarkable of these intermediate species. We see a 
bird-reptile, having affinities with each. But its species 
is determinate and clearly specialised. The archeopteryx 
has the constitution of the reptile, but it has also well- 
developed wings, capable of flight, bird's wings. 

A reptile with embryonic wings, or wings indicated 
at the beginning of their development, has never been 

What is true for the archeopteryx is equally true for 
all known intermediate forms; they are all well marked, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

special, and very distinct types, allowing of the use of 
the organs characteristic of each species. 

"Whilst palaeontology presents many rudimentary 
organs, residues of those which are useless and dis- 
carded, it never shows organs outlined but as yet 

It seems, therefore, that abrupt transformations may 
Well be the rule in evolution. 

But it is evident that the abrupt appearances of new 
species can be explained neither by natural selection 
nor by the influence of the environment. Le Dantec 
recognises this when he exclaims, * a mutation produced 
under my eyes is a lock to which I have no key I ' * 

' La Crise du Transformistnt, 



It appears then, that whether we consider physical 
characteristics or instincts, both seem to be immutable. 
They may develop or atrophy, and may vary within 
narrow limits, but these changes are always changes of 
detail, never of essentials. This truth had been clearly 
brought out long before by the researches of naturalists : 
De Vries brought to it the support of direct experiment. 
He reduced it to the following law: * New species become 
stable immediately.' This involves a new and serious 
objection to classical transformism. 

If new species appear abruptly and immediately 
become stable, the theory of innumerable and slow 
transformations under selective or adaptive influences 
is definitely ruined as a general and essential theory. 

The evolutionary question is no longer one of a 
vast accumulation of infinitesimal changes bringing 
about the formation of new species ; but of considerable 
and abrupt changes revealing themselves by the rapid 
appearance of species that become permanent as soon 
as they have appeared. 

This is an immense revolution in naturalistic philos- 
ophy. The four difficulties which have just been 
reviewed are of the naturalistic order. Before passing to 
the fifth, which is of a totally different kind, and of a 
metaphysical nature, I will beg the reader who may not 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

have been convinced by the preceding demonstration 
of the impotence of the classical factors, to turn his 
thoughts to the precise and unanswerable evidence 
which Nature seems to have specially put forward to 
guard us from error. This is the testimony of the 



To consider the insect attentively is to be convinced of 
the emptiness of ancient and modern theories on the 
creation or the evolution of species. 

The insect, appearing in the first ages of terrestrial 
life, and showing in all cases the essential stability of 
its species once they have appeared, bears strong testi- 
mony against the concept of continuous transformations 
by innumerable slow variations. 

The chasm which separates the perfect insect from 
its larva — an abyss in which the Darwinian and 
Lamarckian theories are hopelessly lost — is testimony 
against its evolution by the classical factors of selection 
and adaptation. The disconcerting and marvellous 
spectacle of its primary instincts, which those factors 
are powerless to explain, is another argument against 

The radical, and (so to speak) spontaneous trans- 
formations in a closed chrysalis almost isolated from 
the action of external agencies, is opposed to the concept 
of evolution by such agencies. 

The transformations and metamorphoses, and the 
progressive or regressive changes of its larval existence 
are equally opposed to the concept of a continuous and 
uninterrupted evolution by functional assimilation. 

Yet more opposed to these is the amazing pheno- 
menon of histolysis^ in the chrysalis, by which most 
of its organs are reduced to an amorphous emulsion, 
preparatory to the coming transformation. 

^ Histolysis. — Gr. Urrds = tissue, \6<ris = solution; the solution of tissue. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

This stupefying testimony, teaching us that neither 
the radical changes in the larva, nor the mysterious 
histolysis, compromise in any way the future morphology 
of the perfect insect, upsets all our concepts on the 
building up of the organism and of the transformations 
of species.^ By its whole biology the insect presents 
the symbol of what evolution really is, and as we shall 
see later, it proves that the essential cause of evolution 
should be sought neither in the influence of the environ- 
ment, nor in the reactions of organic matter to that 
environment ; but in a dynamism ^ independent of that 
organic matter directing it and superior to it. 

It shows us evolution taking place primarily by an 
internal impulse entirely distinct from surrounding 
influences, by a primordial efibrt, unerring but still 
mysterious and absolutely inexplicable by classical 

Not only so: this incomparable testimony, while it 
is the negation of contemporaneous naturalistic theories, 
contradicts also the antiquated concept of Providential 

From the psychological point of view, the leading 
characteristic of the insect is that it possesses pure 
instinct almost without a trace of intelligence. Further, 
we find that this pure instinct, which has remained 
such for ages, is marked by a refined and cruel ferocity 
without counterpart in the rest of the animal world, but 
nevertheless perfectly innocent. 

This ferocity then, if there were a responsible 
Creator, would be the pure, the immaculate work of 

^ Analogous to the testimony of the insect is that of certain species 
of molluscs and crustaceans. Before arriving at the adult form, animals 
of these species undergo extraordinary modifications, by very diverse 
adaptations. Nevertheless the future development of these animals 
continues in despite of their metamorphoses, as if governed by an unalter- 
able and immanent directive principle. 

» Dynaxnism= concrete means of power: holding the same relation 
to dynamics as 'mechanism' to mechanics. — [Translator's note.] 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

that Creator, whose creation would then appear to be his 
faithful reflexion.^ 

It is evidently worth while to consider the insect 
and to give its testimony due weight. If this testimony 
had not been so neglected, it would have saved philosophy 
from many errors. Unfortunately, as Schopenhauer 
says : ' We do not understand the language of Nature, 
because it is too simple! * 

^ We shall see that philosophical idealism, based on facts, is com- 
pletely detached from the old concepts of dogmatic theology. 



This difficulty has been entirely neglected or evaded 
by classical transformism. It is nevertheless a formidable 

The spontaneous appearance of forms superior to 
the originals is a pure impossibility, alike from the 
scientific and from the philosophic point of view. 

There is no escape from the dilemma: either there 
is no evolution, or it implies a potential immanence in 
the evolving universe. 

Evolution being demonstrated, we are compelled to 
admit that all the progressive and complex transforma- 
tions that have been realised existed potentially in the 
primitive elementary forms or form. 

This in no way means that evolution, as it has actually 
come to pass, existed in germ in such and such a primi- 
tive form in like manner as the living creature exists 
in germ in the egg from which it will be hatched. 

Such pre-established finality seems very highly 
improbable. The meaning is that the primitive form 
contained all potentialities, those which have, and those 
which as yet have not been realised; in the past, the 
present, and the future. 

In this philosophical concept what function is 
assigned to the classical evolutionary factors ? 

Simply that they are secondary and accessory. 

They have played an obvious part; they have 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

imposed a particular rhythm on evolution, and have 
favoured it, but they have not produced it. 

One might, strictly speaking, imagine evolution 
proceeding without the intervention of selection or 
adaptation; but we cannot conceive it as proceeding by 
them alone. 

This is the main conclusion to which we are irre- 
sistibly led. 

Thus, classical naturalism, travelling by a very long 
road, which it has vainly explored in every direction, 
finds itself willingly or unwillingly, brought back to 
seek the first cause which it has sought to avoid. Its 
avowed inability to find the essential factors of evolution 
allows of no more fresh starts on the same road. 

Fiske said that transformism had restored to the 
world as much * teleology ' ^ as it had taken away. 
This is not happily expressed, for it implies the kind 
of finality which would fix arbitrarily and in advance 
the trend of evolution. 

But what is indubitable, and results clearly from a 
thorough study of transformism, is the conclusion, that 
evolutionary science cannot dispense with philosophy. 

* Teleology • the doctrine of adaptation to purpose. 




In the foregoing chapters the insufficiency of the classical 
concept of evolution as a whole has been clearly brought 
out. We shall now endeavour to show the insufficiency 
of the classical concept of the individual. 

This concept rests on two principal notions : Unicism,^ 
and the negation of the unity of the Self. 

Unicism rejects the ancient spiritualist, animist, and 
vitalist theories which advanced the claim that there are 
in the individual dynamic or psychic principles different 
in essence from the organism. 

It bases its conclusion on the chemical and morpho- 
logical unity of living forms; on the absence of any 
positive discontinuity between living and inert matter; 
on the laws of biological energy, as clear and precise 
as those of physical energy and in agreement with them. 

The negation of the unity of the Self is similarly 
based on the negation of the spiritualist, animist, and 
vitalist principles, which, in the old psycho-physiological 
concepts separated human from animal life, and that 
from the mineral. These notions being put aside, 
the conclusion is that the Self is but the synthesis or 
the complex of the elements constituting the organism. 

Fundamental to a living being, says Dastre,^ we 
find * the activity proper to each cell — elementary or 
cellular life ; above that, the forms of activity resulting 
from the association of cells, the collective life, the sum, 
or rather the complex, of the partial lives of its elements.* 

But these two notions — naturalistic unicism and 
negation of the unity of the Self — are only connected 
by a philosophical misunderstanding or by a mere error 

* Unicism = the doctrine of the uniformity of all matter. 
• Dastre : La Vie et la Mart. 

37 B 


of reasoning. The monistic philosophy does not neces- 
sarily imply the conception of the Self as a mere cellular 
complex, it even (as we shall see) agrees better with the 
opposite concept of its central unity. 

If, abandoning for the moment all metaphysical 
ideas on the constitution of the individual, we keep 
strictly to the data of fact, we are confronted with a 
leading verity: there are in the individual different 
modalities ^ of energy, and these modalities, even though 
theoretically conceivable as proceeding from a single 
energy, are not equivalent. 

There are in the living being * material energy,* 
* dynamic energy,* as it may be termed, and * psycho- 
logical energy * ; and these modalities of energy appear 
to us to be both distinct in themselves and graded with 
respect to each other. Such are the data of fact. 

Starting from these verified facts we can, without 
losing our way among metaphysical notions, conceive of 
the living being in two different ways. 

The first sees the individual only as a complex of 
partial and elementary individualities. In this concept, 
the apparent grades observable in a living being, are 
simple functions of orientation and relative position. 
This is the classical concept. 

The second sees the individual as a complex yet 
more complex, in which the elements form autonomous 
and distinct cadres — a graded hierarchy. These cadres 
or hierarchic series are not, let us repeat, necessarily 
different in essence; but they have different activities 
and capacities, or if the expression is preferred, are at 
different evolutionary levels. 

We may thus conceive of a dynamic and psychological 
cx)mplex above the material and organic complex, 
organising and centralising it; which psychological 
complex might itself be capable of rational sub-division 

^ Modalities = modes in the logical sense, distinguishing between 
various modes. 



up to the discovery of the central entity, the real Self, 
one and indivisible. 

These two modes of regarding the individual remain 
the same, under whatever mode, monist or pluralist, 
we may regard things at large. 

The former concept has in its favour, simplicity 
and the methodological principle of economy of causation. 

Against it there is the diversity between physio- 
logical and psychological facts, and the insurmountable 
difficulty of subordinating the latter to the former; and, 
more especially, its flagrant insufficiency in explaining, 
not merely psychic activity, but even vital activity. 

Methodical analysis of the classical concepts of 
physiological and psychological individuality will bring 
this out. 



The concept of the physical Self as a mere complex of 
cells comes into collision with serious difficulties. We 
may classify these like those of the evolutionary theories. 
They are: difficulties relating to the general concept of 
polyzoism;^ those relating to the specific form of the 
individual, to the building, the maintenance and the 
repair of the organism; those relating to embryonic 
and post-embryonic metamorphoses; and those relating 
to the so-called supernormal physiology. 


The description given by Dastre^ of physical 
individuality is as follows. 

* We imagine the complex living being, whether 
plant or animal, with its form that distinguishes 
it from all others, as a populous city, distinguished 
by a thousand traits from a neighbouring city. Its 
elements are independent and autonomous by the 
same title as the anatomical elements of the organism. 
Each has in itself the springs of life, which it neither 
borrows from its neighbours nor draws from the 
community. All these inhabitants have a definite life, 
and even breathe and are nourished after the same 
manner, possessing all the same general human 
faculties; but each has, over and above, his own 
trade, industry, aptitudes, and talents by which he 
contributes to the social life, and in his turn depends 

^ Polyzoism=a constitution similar to a colony of living cells or 

> Dafitre : La Vie et la Mori. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

upon it. The statesman, the mason, the baker, the 
butcher, the manufacturer, the artist, all perform 
different tasks and supply different products, more 
numerous and varied as the social state is more 
perfect. The living being, whether plant or animal 
is a city of this kind.' 

The grave objections to this theory are immediately 

The picture set before us as that of a living being 
is that of an animal colony pure and simple. Possibly 
correct for some forms which have only the outward 
show of individualisation, for inferior animals of the 
type of zoophytes, it cannot be considered true for 
animals sharply marked off from other orders of life. 

In the city described by Dastre the most essential 
feature is missing: a centralised direction, which alone 
is able, first to unite, and then to maintain, to order, and 
to direct the State for the common welfare. 



The classical concept leaves unexplained all that 
, relates to the life, the formation, the development, and 
the maintenance of the organism. To it, physiology is 
an entire mystery. That this mysteriousness is not 
immediately apparent, is due to a well-known illusion of 
the human mind, which is always prone to think that it 
understands a thing merely because it is familiar. The 
philosophical mind naturally reacts against this tendency; 
the many are irresistibly carried away by it. * The 
more unintelligent a man is,* Schopenhauer writes, * the 
less mysterious existence seems to him. Everything 
seems to him to carry in itself the explanation of its 
How and Why.' 


"From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Now nothing is more familiar in its main outline? 
than the functioning of our own organism, and nothing 
seems simpler to the vulgar mind; but in reality nothing 
is more mysterious. 

What life is in itself involves a mystery as yet 
impenetrable. The vital mechanism, and the activity 
of the great organic functions, are equally unexplained. 
This activity, which lies outside the conscious will of 
the Self, is elaborated and completed unconsciously, 
exactly as we shall see is the case in so-called super- 
normal physiology. Normal function is just as ' occult * 
as that which is called supernormal. 

Even the constitution of the organism and all that 
pertains to it, birth, growth, embryonic development, 
maintenance of the personality throughout life, organic 
repair (which in certain animals goes as far as the repro- 
duction of lost members and even of viscera), all these 
are so many insoluble enigmas if the classical concept of 
individuality be accepted. 

Let us try, by the light of this concept, to understand 
the building up and the functioning of the anatomico- 
physiological individuality, leaving purely philosophical 
and even psychological questions on one side. Let us 
look only at the physical being, the physiological 
individual, considered as a cellular complex. Whence 
and how does the complex of cells that makes up a 
living being draw its specific form } How does it keep 
that form throughout its life } How is its physical 
personality formed, maintained, and repaired } 

It is not admissible, let us remark, to invoke an 
organising dynamism, for that is rejected by classical 
physiology. We cannot even resort to the * directing 
idea * of Claude Bernard, which is held to be antiquated. 
How, then, does the cellular complex, by the mere fact 
of the association of its constituent elements, acquire this 
vital and individualising power } 

Whence ? How } Why } Once more, so many 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

mysteries ! Dastre characterises as * unfathomable * 
the mystery by which in embryonic development 'the 
ovum-cell, drawing to itself external material, succeeds 
in building up the marvellous structure which is the 
body of an animal, the body of a man, even of a 
particular man/ Nevertheless explanations have been 
sought and found. They are disconcertingly feeble. 
Le Dantec, for instance, declares that the form of a 
creature, and its whole constitution, necessarily depend 
on its chemical composition, on the relation established 
between the specific form and this chemical composition. 
He writes in all seriousness : * The form of a greyhound 
is simply the condition of equilibrium of the greyhound 
chemical substance.* 

* This,* remarks Dastre * is saying a great deal too 
much, if it means that the body of the dog is " a 
substance '* which behaves after the fashion of 
homogeneous isotropical masses like melted sulphur 
or dissolved salt: it is better, but means much less, 
if it signifies in the mind of the physiologist that 
the body of the greyhound is the condition of 
equilibrium of a heterogeneous, non-isotropic, material 
system under infinitely numerous chemical and 
physical conditions. The idea of attributing form 
— and therefore organisation — only to chemical com- 
position, has not had its birth from the mind of 
chemists, nor from that of physiologists.' 
In reality the supposed explanation by Le Dantec is 
nothing but a verbal explanation, which substitutes one 
difficulty for another. Instead of the question: How 
is the specific form realised } we are led, if we admit 
Le Dantec's hypothesis, to ask: How is the condition 
of chemical equilibrium which is the basis of the specific 
form, realised and maintained.? The mystery is just 
as great as before. But even taken as it stands, the 
hypothesis cannot be sustained, for it can give 
no account, as we shall see later on, of the changes 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

undergone by the organism during embryonic develop- 

As the classical concept of the Self cannot account 
for the building up of the organism and its specific 
form, so also it cannot explain how this organism main- 
tains and repairs itself during life. 

Nothing is more curious than the efforts of naturalists 
and physiologists to explain individual permanence in 
despite of perpetual cellular renewal. 

Claude Bernard sought to demonstrate that vital 
functions are necessarily accompanied by organic destruc- 
tion and regeneration. 

* When there is movement,* he says,^ * in a man 
or an animal, a part of the active substance of the 
muscle is destroyed or burned; when sensation and 
will are manifested, the nerves are used up; when 
thought is exercised, the brain is consumed in some 
measure. It may be said that the same matter is 
never used twice during life. When an act is 
accomplished, that portion of living matter which 
has served to produce it exists no longer. If the 
phenomenon is repeated, it is by the aid of new 
matter. ... In a word, physico-chemical destruction 
is everywhere conjoined with functional activity, and 
we may regard as a physiological axiom the proposi- 
tion : Every manifestation of action in a living being 
is necessarily connected with organic destruction.* 
But this axiom is impugned by contemporary 
physiologists. In opposition to Claude Bernard, their 
efforts tend to establish, that really living substance, 
protoplasm, is much less destroyed during life than was 
imagined. Cellular renovation, according to them, is 
very slight. (Chauveau, Pfltiger.) 

Certain physiologists (Marinesco) have not hesitated 
to ascribe indefinite duration to the cerebral cells. 

Finally, Le Dantec, going further still, declares that 

^ Claude Bernard : Les PMnomines de la VU, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

not only is living matter not destroyed by use, but that 
it increases. 

It would seem that nothing should be easier than 
to decide experimentally the problem of cellular destruc- 
tion, by quantitative analysis of the nitrogenous waste 
in the urine. In fact it is very difficult to distinguish 
between the part that comes from the albuminoids in 
food, and that which comes from waste of the organism; 
and the best conducted researches such as those of Igo 
Kaup still give uncertain results. 

But in default of proof from the laboratory, reasoning 
suffices to prove the perpetual destruction and restora- 
tion of cellular protoplasm. 

At the outset and, a priori, without need of demonstra- 
tion, it seems that such a tiny element as the living cell 
should necessarily have short life; much shorter in any 
case, than that of the organism to which it belongs. It 
would therefore be renewed x times during the life of 
that organism. 

Further, the imperious necessity for ingestion by the 
living being of nitrogenous elements in considerable 
quantity can be explained only by the needs of cellular 
regeneration. Otherwise we should be driven to the 
absurd supposition that the nitrogen is ingested to be 
immediately eliminated, and is not an indispensable 
nutriment, while the contrary is well established. 

Therefore, even if further research should prove 
that the living cell remains intact, as a framework, 
throughout life, that would by no means imply that it 
remains intact as to its constituent molecules. 

The problem of molecular renewal replaces that of 
cellular renewal, and the question remains neither more 
nor less mysterious. Thus the * directive idea * neces- 
sarily presides over the maintenance of the personalit}'' as 
it presides at its building up. 

The difficulties which we have rapidly reviewed are 
already considerable; but they are as nothing compared 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

with those that we shall now examine. The problems of 
embryonic and post-embryonic metamorphoses, and the 
problem of so-called supernormal physiology, if we take 
the trouble to look at them conjointly, enable us to affirm 
that the classical concept of physical individuality is 
erroneous, and that the living being is quite other than 
a cellular complex. 

"We shall probe to the quick the fundamental defect 
of the ascending method which strives to adapt an 
explanation to simple or relatively simple facts, while 
evading the inherent difficulties of complex or relatively 
complex facts. 

If we look at physiology as a whole and synthetically, 
without putting aside these primordial difficulties; and, 
a fortiori^ if we give weight to them, then the concept 
that results is undeniably and evidently quite opposed 
to that which some have sought to deduce from mediocre, 
narrow, and tentative analytical researches. 



It is well known that embryonic and post-embryonic 
development, far from being uniform, proceeds by a 
series of metamorphoses. These sometimes retrace the 
previous evolutionary changes of the species, and some- 
times reflect the divergent adaptations realised during 
larval life. Metamorphoses are common to all animals, 
but are specially remarkable among those which have 
a prolonged larval life after leaving the c^q, such as 
batrachians, molluscs, and annelids. By these changes 
the development of the animal assumes successive forms, 
very different from one another, before reaching the 
definitive adult shape. These facts are a complete 
negation of the classical theories on the building up of 
the organism. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Let us return to Le Dantec's explanation of specific 
form. Are we to admit that the conditions of chemical 
equilibrium, which is its supposed basis, continually 
change during the development of an animal, and change 
in a given sense following a pre-determined direction 
leading to the adult form ? So be it; but this is once 
more to have recourse to the * directing idea,' in other 
words, to restore to physiology all the finality which it 
claimed to discard. 

The tadpole has all the organs, the constitution, 
and the mode of life of a fish. Suddenly, without change 
of environment or mode of life, its conditions of chemical 
equilibrium are about to alter. They will be modified 
in such a manner, according to Le Dantec, that legs 
will appear, that lungs will replace gills, that 
the heart with two cavities will become one with 
three cavities; in short, that the fish will become a 

Consider the medusa. Its successive larval forms are 
so different from each other that they were long taken 
for distinct animals. 

How is the genesis of these successive forms to be 
explained by modifications in the chemical equili- 
brium } 

In these metamorphoses of embryonic life there is a 
double problem. First the problem of the metamorphoses 
themselves. How do they come about ? How do they 
recall either the transitional forms of the evolutionary 
ancestry, or the details of divergent larval adaptations } 
Where, and how, is the ineffaceable imprint of these 
ancestral forms and adaptations preserved } 

Then there is the problem of the individual expansion. 
How is it that these changes do not interfere with its 
reaching the definite adult form } How is it that this 
form is always attained, certainly and without fail .'' If 
we see nothing in the individual but a cellular complex, 
the double problem cannot be solved. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

The mystery becomes clearer only if it be admitted 
that above the metamorphoses, above the organic and 
physiological modifications and the revolutions in the 
chemical equilibrium of life, there exists the directive 
dominant of a superior dynamism. 


It is in the post-embryonic development of certain 
insects that the evidence of this dominant appears in 
the most striking manner. As is well known, certain 
insects undergo their last and greatest transformation 
in the chrysalis. They are then subject to an extremely 
curious change — histolysis. 

In the protective envelope of the chrysalis, which shuts 
off the animal from light and from external perturbing 
influences, a strange elaboration takes place, singularly 
like that which will presently be described under the 
head of the so-called supernormal physiology. The 
body of the insect is dematerialised. It is disintegrated, and 
melts into a kind of uniform pap, a simple amorphous 
substance in which the majority of organic and specific 
distinctions disappear. There is the bare fact in all its 

Doubtless the question of histolysis is far from being 
fully elucidated. Since its discovery by Weissmann in 
1864, naturalists have not been able to come to entire 
agreement on the extent of the dissolution nor on its 
mechanism. It is, however, well established, * that when 
the larva becomes immobile and is transformed into a 
pupa, most of its tissues disappear by histolysis. The 
tissues thus destroyed are the hypodermic cells of the 
first four segments, the breathing tubes, the muscles, 
the fatty body and the peripheral nerves. Of these 
there remain no visible cellular elements. At the same 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

time the cells of the middle intestine assemble in a 
central mass, making a sort of magma.* ^ 

Then a new generation of tissue takes place, partly 
from the magma resulting from the histolysis, partly 
from the proliferation of special corpuscles called image- 
bearing discs. The newly-formed portions of the 
organism thus seem to have no direct filiation with the 
destroyed parts of the larval organism. 

Whether we like it or not, the evidence of such facts 
upsets all the classical biologic concepts — chemical 
equilibrium as conditioning specific form, cellular 
affinity, functional assimilation, the animal as a cellular 
complex, all become so many vain formulae and non- 
sense 1 

Either we must be content to bow before the mystery 
and declare it impenetrable, or we must have the 
courage to avow that classical physiology has lost its 

In order to understand all these — the mystery of 
specific form, embryonic and post-embryonic develop- 
ment, the constitution and maintenance of the personality, 
organic repair, and all the other general problems of 
biology — it is necessary and sufficient to accept a notion, 
which is certainly not new, but is placed in a new light, 
the notion of a dynamism superior to the organism and 
conditioning it. 

This is not the * directive idea ' of Claude Bernard, 
which is a kind of abstraction, an incomprehensible 
metaphysico-biological entity. This is a concrete idea 
— that of a directing and centralising dynamism, domin- 
ating both intrinsic and extrinsic contingencies, the 
chemical reactions of the organic medium, and the 
influences of the external environment. 

We shall find the existence of this dynamism affirmed 
in like manner, not more certainly, but more evidentially, 
in the so-called supernormal physiology. There indeed 

* F61ix Henneguy : Les Insectes. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

the manifestations of the physiological dynamism pass 
outside the limits of the organism, are separate from it 
and act outside it. Yet more, it can partially disintegrate 
the organism and with its substance, can reconstitute 
new organic forms exterior to it, or, to use the correct 
philosophical formula, can make new representations,* 

^ Vid* Translator's Note, p. viii. 



No one nowadays is ignorant of what is meant by the 
so-called supernormal physiology. It is manifested in 
persons of special gifts and constitutions, called mediums, 
by dynamic and material effects inexplicable by the 
regular play of their organs and transcending the field 
of organic action. 

The most important and complex phenomena of 
this so-called supernormal physiology are those called 
materialisation and dematerialisation. Conformably to 
our method, these are the only ones which we shall first 
endeavour to understand, in order, later, to apply the 
solution of the problem to other less important facts 
of the same order, such as the movements of objects 
without contact. 


I have no intention of making here a historical or 
critical study of materialisations, a study which the 
reader will find in the special works named below.^ I 
shall only bring my personal contribution to the analysis 
and synthesis of this phenomenon, which is of primary 

* Works to consult : Aksakoff : Animisme ei Spiritisme; J. Bisson : 
Les Phinomdnes dits de M aUrialisation ; Crookes : Researches in the 
Phenomena of Spiritualism ; Delanne : Les Apparitions Matirialisles ; 
D'Esperance : Au Pays de V Ombre ; Flammarion : Les Forces Naturelles 
Inconnues ; Maxwell : Psychic Phenomena ; Richet : Etudes sur les 
Materialisations de la Villa Carmen ; Dr Schrenck-Notzing : Matirialisa- 
tivns Phinomines ; De Rocbas : CEuvres Completes. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

importance since more certainly than any other it reverses 
the very foundations of physiology. 

The sequence of materialisation may be summed up 
as under : — 

From the body of the medium there exudes, or is 
exteriorised, a substance at first amorphous or poly- 
morphous. This substance takes on diverse forms, 
usually representations of more or less complex organs. 

We may therefore consider in turn: — 

1, The substance which is the substratum of the 


2. Its organised representations. 

This substance may be exteriorised in a gaseous or 
vaporous form, or again as a liquid or a solid. 

The vaporous form is the more frequent and the 
best known. Near the medium there is outlined or 
amassed a kind of visible vapour, a sort of fog, often 
connected with the body of the medium by a thin link 
of the same substance. In different parts of this fog 
there then appears what resembles a condensation, 
which M. Le Cour has ingeniously compared to the 
supposed formation of nebulae. These areas of con- 
densation finally take the appearance of organs, whose 
development is very rapidly completed. 

This substance of materialisation is more amenable 
to examination under its liquid or solid forms. Its 
change into organs is then sometimes slower. It remains 
longer in the amorphous state, and allows of a more 
precise notion of the genesis of the phenomenon. 

It has been observed under this form, from several 
mediums, especially from the famous medium Eglinton.* 
But it is from the medium Eva that this solid substance 
is generated with astonishing completeness. The reader 
should refer to the books of Mme Bisson and of Dr 
Schrenck-Notzing for the description of the innumerable 
forms that it takes. 

*■ Delanne : Les Apparitions MaUrialisies, vol. ii. pp. 642 et seq. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Having trained and educated Eva, Mme Bisson 
has been able during long years of research to study 
at her leisure this phenomenon whose scientific import 
has long remained unrealised. Her book is therefore 
a mine of documentary evidence generously offered to 
scientific and philosophic minds. 

The work of Dr Schrenck-Notzing is a methodical 
and complete account of his studies on the same medium ; 
it is drawn up with skill, it is clear, exact, and provided 
with references; it contains also the record of similar 
experiments with another medium having the same 
faculties as Eva. 

Thanks to the complaisance and goodwill of Mme 
Bisson, I had the honour and privilege of studying 
Eva with her for a year and a half, at bi-weekly seances, 
held at first in her house, and afterwards, for three 
consecutive months, exclusively in my own laboratory .1 

After my study of Eva, I was able to verify 
analogous though elementary phenomena in new subjects 
from whom I endeavoured to induce materialisations. 

I shall now give a synthetic resume of my experiments 
and records; and it is my own testimony only that I 
give in this book, a testimony in complete accord with 
that of a very large number of men of science, chiefly 
physicians, who are to-day completely convinced of the 
authenticity of this phenomenon, although for the 
most part starting from absolute scepticism. 

I have been able to see, to touch, and to photograph 
the materialisations of which I am about to write. 

I have frequently followed the event from its 
beginning to its end; for it was formed, developed, 
and disappeared under my own eyes. However unex- 
pected, strange or impossible such a manifestation may 

* The results were the subject of a conference at the College de France, 
published under the title. La Physiologic dite Super anormale. This will 
be found, illustrated by 24 photogravures in the Bulletin de I'lnstitut 
Physiologique of January- June, 1918, published at No. 143 Boulevard 
Saint-Michel, Paris. Now reproduced in the Appendix, p. 328. 

53 F 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

appear, I have no right to put forward the slightest 
doubt as to its reaUty. With Eva, the mode of operation 
necessary to obtain materialisations is very simple: the 
medium, after having been seated in the dark cabinet, is 
put into the hypnotic state, slightly, but enough to 
involve forgetfulness of the normal personality. This 
dark cabinet has no other purpose than to protect the 
sleeping medium from disturbing influences, and specially 
from the action of light. It is thus possible to keep the 
stance-room sufficiently well lit for perfect obser- 

The phenomena appear (when they do appear) after 
a variable interval, sometimes very brief, sometimes an 
hour or m.ore. They always begin by painful sensations 
in the medium; she sighs and moans from time to time 
much like a woman in childbirth. These moans reach 
their height just when the manifestation begins, they 
lessen or cease when the forms are complete. 

There first appear luminous liquid patches from the 
size of a pea to that of a crown-piece, scattered here and 
there over her black smock, principally on the left side. 

This constitutes a premonitory phenomenon, appear- 
ing sometimes three-quarters of an hour to an hour 
before the other phenomena. Sometimes it is omitted, 
and sometimes it appears without being followed by 
anything more. The substance exudes specially from 
the natural orifices and the extremities, from the top 
of the head, from the nipples, and the ends of the fingers. 

The most frequent and most easily observed origin 
is from the mouth ; the substance is then seen to proceed 
from the interior surface of the cheeks, the roof of the 
palate, and the gums. 

The substance has variable aspects; sometimes, and 
most characteristically, it appears as a plastic paste, a 
true protoplasmic mass; sometimes as a number of fine 
threads; sometimes as strings of different thickness in 
narrow and rigid lines; sometimes as a wide band; 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

sometimes as a fine tissue of ill-defined and irregular 
shape. The most curious form of all is that of a wide- 
spread membrane with swellings, and fringes, whose 
general appearance is remarkably like that of the 
epiploon (caul). In fine, the substance is essentially 
amorphous, or rather, polymorphous. 

The quantity of the substance exteriorised is very 
variable; sometimes there is extremely little, sometimes 
it is abundant, with all intermediate degrees. In certain 
cases it covers the medium completely, like a cloak. 
It may show three different colours; white, black, or 
gray. The white seems the more frequent form, perhaps 
because it is the easiest to observe. The three colours 
are sometimes seen simultaneously. The visibility of 
this substance is also very variable. Its visibility may 
wax and wane slowly and repeatedly. To the touch it 
gives very different sensations, usually having some 
relation to the form of the moment; it seems soft and 
somewhat elastic while spreading; hard, knotty, or 
fibrous when it forms cords. 

Sometimes it feels like a spider's web touching the 
hand of the observer. The threads of the substance 
are both stiff and elastic. It is mobile. Sometimes it 
is slowly evolved, rises and falls, and moves over the 
medium's shoulders, her breast, or her lap with a crawling, 
reptilian movement; sometimes its motion is abrupt and 
rapid, it appears and disappears like a flash. 

It is extremely sensitive, and its sensitiveness is 
closely connected with that of hyperaesthetised medium; 
and touch reacts painfully on the latter. If the touch 
should be at all rough or prolonged the medium 
shows pain which she compares to a touch on raw 

The substance is sensitive even to light-rays; a 
light, especially if sudden and unexpected, produces a 
painful start in the medium. However, nothing is more 
variable than the light-effects ; in some cases the substance 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

can stand even full daylight. The magnesium flashlight 
causes a violent start in the medium, but it is borne, 
and allows of instantaneous photographs. 

In the effects of light on the substance, and its 
repercussion on the medium, it is difficult to distinguish 
between real pain and mere reflex; both, whether pain 
or reflex, impede investigation. For this reason the 
phenomena have as yet not been cinematographed. To 
Its sensitiveness the substance seems to add a kind of 
instinct not unlike that of the self-protection of the 
invertebrates; it would seem to have all the distrust of 
a defenceless creature, or one whose sole defence is to 
re-enter the parent organism. It shrinks from all con- 
tacts and is always ready to avoid them and to be 

It has an immediate and irresistible tendency towards 
organisation; not remaining long in its first state. It 
often happens that this organisation is so rapid as not 
to permit of the primordial substance being seen. At 
other times the amorphous substance may be observed 
with more or less complete representations immersed 
in its mass; for instance, a finger may be seen hanging 
in the midst of fringes of the substance; even heads 
and faces are sometimes seen enwrapped by it. 

I now come to the representations; they are of the 
most diverse character. Sometimes they are indeter- 
minate, inorganic forms ; but more often they are organic, 
of varying complexity and completeness. 

Different observers — Crookes and Richet among 
others — have, as is well known, described complete 
materialisations, not of phantoms in the proper sense 
of the word, but of beings having for the moment all 
the vital particulars of living beings ; whose hearts beat, 
whose lungs breathe, and whose bodily appearance is 

I have not, alas, observed phenomena so complete, 
but, on the other hand, I have very frequently seen 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

complete representations of an organ, such as a face, a 
hand, or a finger. 

In the more complete cases the materialised organ 
has all the appearance and biologic functions of a living 
organ. I have seen admirably modelled fingers, with 
their nails; I have seen complete hands with bones and 
joints; I have seen a living head, whose bones I could 
feel under a thick mass of hair. I have seen well- 
formed living and human faces! 

On many occasions these representations have been 
formed from beginning to end under my own eyes. 
I have, for instance, seen the substance issue from the 
hands of the medium and link them together ; then, 
the medium separating her hands, the substance has 
lengthened, forming thick cords, has spread, and formed 
fringes like epiploic fringes. Lastly, in the midst of 
these fringes, there has appeared by progressive repre- 
sentation, perfectly organised fingers, a hand, or a face. 
In other cases I have witnessed an analogous organisation 
in substance issuing from the mouth. 

Here is one example taken from my notebook: 
* From the mouth of Eva there descends to her knees a 
cord of white substance of the thickness of two fingers ; 
this ribbon takes under our eyes varying forms, that 
of a large perforated membrane, with swellings and 
vacant spaces; it gathers itself together, retracts, swells, 
and narrows again. Here and there from the mass appear 
temporary protrusions, and these for a few seconds 
assume the form of fingers, the outline of hands, and 
then re-enter the mass. Finally the cord retracts on 
itself, lengthens to the knees, its end rises, detaches 
itself from the medium, and moves towards me. I then 
see the extremity thicken like a swelling, and this terminal 
swelling expands into a perfectly modelled hand. I 
touch it; it gives a normal sensation; I feel the bones, 
and the fingers with their nails. Then the hand con- 
tracts, diminishes, and disappears in the end of the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

cord. The cord makes a few movements, retracts, and 
returns into the medium's mouth.* 

It is possible to observe the vaporous form of the 
substance at the same time as its soHd form; it emerges 
from the body of the medium invisible and impalpable, 
no doubt through the meshes of the clothing, and 
condenses on the surface of this latter, appearing as a 
small cloud which develops into a white spot on the 
black smock, at the level of the shoulders, the breast, 
or the knees. The spot grows, spreads, and takes on 
the outlines or the reliefs of a hand or a face. 

Whatever may be the mode of its formation the 
materialisation does not always remain in contact with 
the medium; it may sometimes be observed quite 
detached: the following example is typical in this 
respect : — 

* A head appears suddenly, about three-fourths of 
a yard from Eva's head, above, and to her right. It is 
the head of a man, of normal size, well formed and in 
the usual relief. The top of the head and the forehead 
are completely materialised. The forehead is large and 
high, the hair short and abundant, brown or black. 
Below the brows the contours shade off; only 
the top of the head and the forehead are clearly 

* The head disappears for a moment behind the 
curtain, then reappears as before; but the face, incom- 
pletely materialised, is masked by a band of white 
substance. I put my hand forward and pass my fingers 
through the tufted hair and feel the bone of the cranium 
... an instant later everything has vanished.' The 
forms have, it will be observed, a certain independence, 
and this independence is both physiological and 

The materialised organs are not inert, but biologically 
alive. A well-formed hand, for instance, has the 
functional capacities of a normal hand. I have several 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

times been intentionally touched by a hand or grasped 
by its fingers. 

The most remarkable materialisations which I have 
myself observed are those produced by Eva in my 
laborator}'^, during three consecutive months of the 
winter of 1917-1918. In the bi-weekly seances in 
collaboration with Madame Bisson, the Medical Inspector 
General, — M. Calmette, M. Jules Courtier, and M. Le 
Cour, we obtained a series of records of the greatest 
interest. We saw, touched, and photographed repre- 
sentations of heads and faces formed from the original 
substance. These were formed under our eyes, the 
curtains being half-drawn. Sometimes they proceeded 
from a cord of solid substance issuing from the medium, 
sometimes they were progressively developed in a fog 
of vaporous substance condensed in front of her, or at 
her side. For reproductions of some of these photo- 
graphs see the Appendix, p. 328. 

In the former case, when the materialisation was 
fully formed, traces more or less marked of the original 
cord of substance could be seen. 

The materialised forms, photographs of which were 
given in my study on so-called Supernormal Physiology 
and are reproduced at the end of this volume, were 
remarkable from several points of view. 

1. They were always three-dimensional. During the 

stances I could convince myself of this by 
sight, and on several occasions by touch. 
Moreover, the relief is evident in the stereo- 
scopic pictures taken. 

2. The different faces in this series presented some 

similarities together with great differences : — 

Differences in the features; 

Differences in the size of the forms, some 
less than natural size, but of dimensions variable 
from one seance to another, and in the course 
of the same seance; 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Differences in the perfection of the features, 
these being sometimes quite regular, in other 
cases defective; 

Differences in the degree of materialisation, 
which was sometimes complete; sometimes 
incomplete, with rudiments or substance; some- 
times merely indicated. 
I wish to call attention to the interesting nature, from 
every point of view, of these rudiments of substance. 
The importance of rudiments in * metapsychical embry- 
ology ' is comparable with their importance in normal 
embryology. They give evidence as to the origin and 
the genesis of the formations. 

The better materialised the forms were, the more 
power of self- direction (autonomic) they seemed to have. 
They evolved round Eva, sometimes at some distance 
from her. One of these faces appeared first at the opening 
of the curtain, of natural size, very beautiful and with a 
remarkably life-like appearance. 

At another stance, through the curtain of the 
cabinet, I could feel with my hands the contact of a 
human body which caused the curtain to undulate. 
(Eva was stretched out in the arm-chair, in full sight, 
and her hands were held.) 

It is needless to say that the usual precautions 
were rigorously observed during the stances in my 
laboratory. On coming into the room where the stances 
were held, and to which I alone had previous access, 
the medium was completely undressed m my presence, 
and dressed in a tight garment, sewn up the back and 
at the wrists; the hair, and the cavity of the mouth were 
examined by me and my collaborators before and after 
the stances. Eva was walked backwards to the wicker 
chair in the dark cabinet; her hands were always held 
in full sight outside the curtains; and the room was 
always quite well lit during the whole time. I do not 
merely say, * There was no trickery * ; I say * There 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

was no possibility of trickery.'^ Further, and I cannot 
repeat it too often, nearly always the materialisations 
took place under my own eyes, and I have observed 
their genesis and their whole development. 

Well constituted organic forms having all the appear- 
ance of life, are often replaced by incomplete formations. 
The relief is often wanting and the forms are flat. There 
are some that are partly flat and partly in relief, I have 
seen in certain cases, a hand or a face appear flat, and 
then, under my eyes assume the three dimensions, 
entirely or partially. The incomplete forms are some- 
times smaller than natural size, being occasionally 

Instead of being apparent by an alteration in 
height, breadth, or thickness, the incompleteness of the 
formations is often manifest by deficiencies : the materiali- 
sations are of natural size, but show gaps in their 

Dr Schrenck-Notzing, by taking simultaneous stereo- 
scopic photographs from the front, the side, and the 
back, has seen that usually only the first reveal a complete 
materialisation; the dorsal region being in the condition 
of a mass of amorphous substance. 

I have personally remarked the same thing. 

It is not improbable that the loose veils, turbans, 
and similar drapery with which * phantoms ' so often 
appear, mask defects or gaps in the newly-formed 

There are all possible gradations between the com- 
plete and the incomplete organic forms, and they 
develop under the eyes of the observers. 

Along with these complete and incomplete forms it 
is necessary to mention another strange category which 

1 1 am, moreover, glad to testify that Eva has always shown, in my 
presence, absolute experimental honesty. The intelligent and self- 
sacrificing resignation with which she submitted to all control and the 
truly painful tests of her mediumship, deserve the real and sincere grati- 
tude of all men of science worthy of the name. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

covers imitations of organs. They are true simulacra. 
There are simulacra of fingers, having the general form 
but without warmth, flexibihty, or joints; simulacra of 
faces like masks, or as if cut out of paper; tufts of hair 
adhering to undefined formations, etc. 

These simulacra^ whose reality is undeniable (a 
point which is of great importance) have disconcerted 
and perplexed many observers. * One would think,* 
said M. de Fontenay, * that some kind of malicious sprite 
was mocking the observers.' 

But really these simulacra may be easily explained. 
They are the products of a force whose metapsychic 
output is weak and whose means of execution are weaker 
still. It does what it can. It rarely succeeds, precisely 
because its activity, directed outside the normal lines, 
has no longer the certainty which the normal biologic 
impulse gives to physiological activity. 

The fact that normal physiology also has its simulacra 
enables us to understand this better. Besides well- 
developed organic formations and complete foetal growths 
there are miscarriages, monstrosities, and aberrant forms. 
Nothing is more curious in this respect than the dermoid 
cysts in which are found hair, teeth, viscera, and even 
more or less complete foetal forms. Like normal 
physiology, the so-called supernormal has its complete 
and aborted forms, its monstrosities, and its dermoid 
cysts. The parallelism is complete. 

The disappearance of materialised forms is at least 
as curious as their appearance. This disappearance is 
sometimes instantaneous, or nearly so. In less than a 
second the form whose presence was evident to sight 
and touch, has disappeared. In other cases the dis- 
appearance is gradual; the return to the original 
substance and its reabsorption into the body of the 
medium can be observed by the same stages as its 
production. In other cases again the disappearance 
takes place, not by a return to the original substance, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

but by progressive diminution of its perceptible charac- 
teristics, the visibility slowly lessens, the contours are 
blurred, effaced, and vanish. 

During the whole time that the materialisation lasts 
it is in obvious physiological and psychological relation 
with the medium. The physiological connection may 
sometimes be perceived as a thin cord of the substance 
linking the form to the medium, a link which may be 
compared to the umbilical cord that unites the embryo 
to the mother. Even when this cord is not seen the 
physiological relation is close. Every impression received 
by the ectoplasm ^ reacts on the medium, and vice versa ; 
the extreme reflex sensitiveness of the forms is closely 
connected with that of the medium. Everything goes 
to prove that the ectoplasm is, in a word, the medium 
herself, partially exteriorised. I am speaking, of course, 
only from the physiological point of view and not at 
present of the purely psychological side of the matter. 

Such are the facts. It remains to interpret them, if 
possible. Of course, no claim can be advanced to define 
in a few words and off-hand what Life is ! It is sufficient 
at the outset to state the terms of the problem clearly. 


The first term of that problem relates to the actual 
constitution of living matter. The study of supernormal 
physiology from this point of view confirms the results 
of profound research in normal physiology; both tend 
to establish the concept of the unity of organic substance. 
In the foregoing experiments we have seen first of all, 
exteriorised from the medium's body, a single unique 
substance, from which were derived different ideo- 
plastic « forms. This unique substance we have seen 

* Gr. iicr6ii, outside; v\6.ffixa, a thing formed; the exteriorised substance. 

' Ideoplastic= moulded by an idea. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

many times organise and transform itself under our eyes. 
We have seen a hand emerge from a mass of the sub- 
stance; we have seen a white mass become a face; we 
have seen in a few moments the representation of a 
head give place to that of a hand; we have been able, 
by the concordant evidence of sight and touch, to 
perceive the passage of the inorganic amorphous sub- 
stance into a formal organic representation having for 
the moment all the attributes of life — ^in flesh and bone, 
to use a popular expression. We have seen these repre- 
sentations disappear, melt into the original substance 
and be re-absorbed into the body of the medium. 
Therefore, in supernormal physiology there are not 
diverse substances, bony, muscular, visceral, or nervous, 
as the substrata of different organic formations; there 
is simply one substance, unique and basic, as the sub- 
stratum of organic life. 

It is precisely the same in normal physiology; though 
this is less apparent. It is nevertheless evident in certain 
cases. The same phenomenon takes place, as has already 
been said, in the closed chrysalis of the insect as in the 
dark cabinet at the s dance. Histolysis reduces the 
greater part of its organs and its different parts into 
a single substance which will materialise into the organs 
and different parts of the adult form. The same 
phenomenon belongs to both physiologies; the parallel 
IS legitimate and complete. 

Only ordinary semblances can be set in opposition to 
this concept of the unity of organic matter. First the 
commonplace physiology of daily experience; this 
superficial semblance proves nothing, and observation 
shows that it is illusory. Physico-chemical appearances 
are just as misleading. 

Analyses of the exteriorised substance are, of course, 
not to be had. The moral impossibility of amputating 
from the medium's ectoplasm a portion which might 
grievously injure or kill her, will always prevent this. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

We therefore are ignorant of the exact chemical com- 
position of this substance. Is it decomposable into the 
various simple substances which we find in the living 
body — carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, iron, nitrogen, phos- 
phorus ? Does it imply an absolute unitary atom ? 
We do not know, and it matters little. What we do 
know is that it shows biologic unity. 

In fine: everything in biology takes place as if the 
physical being were formed of a single primordial 
substance; organic forms are mere representations. 

Therefore, the first term of the biological problem 
is the essential unity of organic substance. 


The second term is implied by the necessity of 
admitting a superior, organising, centralising, and direct- 
ing dynamism. 

The necessity of this notion follows from the whole 
of our physiological knowledge. 

It has already been said that only this notion explains 
the mechanism of life, the specific form, the maintenance 
of the personality, and its organic repair. This notion of 
a superior dynamism is forced upon us by a study of 
embryonic and post-embryonic development, and especi- 
ally by a consideration of animal metamorphoses. 
Finally, it has been definitely and absolutely demon- 
strated by the dematerialisations and rematerialisations 
of the insect in its chrysalis and of the medium in her 
dark cabinet. 

In the two latter cases no further doubt or discussion 
is possible : the facts prove that the constituent molecules 
of the organic complex have no absolute specificity; that 
their relative specificity proceeds entirely from the 
dynamic or ideal mould which conditions them, and 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

makes from them visceral, muscular, or nervous sub- 
stance, etc., and gives to them definite form, position, 
and functions. 

In a word, everything takes place in normal and 
supernormal physiology as if the organic complex were 
built up, organised, directed, and maintained by a 
superior dynamism. This is the second term of the 
biologic problem. 



There is a third term, the most important of any: 
the directing dynamism itself obeys a directing idea. 
This directing idea is found in all biological creations, 
whether in the normal constitution of an organism or in 
the abnormal, and more or less complex, materialisation. 
It reveals a well-defined goal. The directing idea does 
not always reach this goal; the result of its activity is 
often imperfect. As may be seen both in normal and 
supernormal physiology, it sometimes produces fully 
developed forms, sometimes abortions or monstrosities, 
sometimes even simulacra\ but whether it attains com- 
pleteness or not, the directing idea is always manifest. 
This is so evident that the right word, applicable to the 
phenomena of materialisation, has been found instinc- 
tively. That word is ' idcoplasticity,' to which has been 
added * teleplasticity * to describe the same phenomenon 
when occurring at a distance from the decentralised or 
dematerialised organism. 

What is the full meaning of this word ? It means 
the modelling of living matter by an idea. The notion 
of ideoplasticity forced upon us by the facts is of con- 
spicuous importance; the idea is no longer a product 
of matter. On the contrary, it is the idea that moulds 
matter and gives form and attributes to it. 


From the TJnconsctous to the Conscious 

In other words, matter — the unique substance — is 
resolved by final analysis into a superior dynamism 
which conditions it, and this dynamism is itself dependent 
on the idea. 

This is nothing less than the complete reversal of 
materialist philosophy. As Flammarion says in his 
admirable book, Les Forces Naturelles Inconnues^ these 
manifestations * confirm what we know from other 
sources: that the purely mechanical concept of nature 
is insufficient; and there is more in the universe than 
matter. It is not matter that governs the world, but 
a dynamic and psychic element.' This is so, the ideo- 
plastic materialisations demonstrate that the living being 
can no longer be considered as a mere cellular complex. 
It appears primarily as a dynamo-psychism, and the 
cellular complex which is its body appears as the ideo- 
plastic product of this dynamo-psychism. Thus the 
formations materialised in mediumistic stances arise 
from the same biological process as normal birth. They 
are neither more nor less miraculous or supernormal; 
they are equally so. The same ideoplastic miracle makes 
the hands, the face, the viscera, the tissues, and the 
entire organism of the foetus at the expense of the 
maternal body, or the hands, the face, or the entire organs 
of a materialisation. 

This singular analogy between normal and so-called 
supernormal physiology extends even to details; the 
ectoplasm is linked to the medium by a channel of 
nourishment, a true umbilical cord, comparable to that 
which joins the embryo to the maternal body. In 
certain cases the materialised forms appear in an ovoid 
of the substance. The following instance taken from 
my notebook is characteristic. * On the lap of the medium 
there appears a white spot which very rapidly forms an 
irregular rounded mass like a ball of snow or cotton 
wool. Under our eyes the mass partly opens, divides 
into two parts, united by a band of substance; in one 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

of them appears the admirably modelled features of a 
woman. The eyes especially have an intensely living 
expression. At the end of a few moments, the phenom- 
enon fades, diminishes in visibility, and disappears.* I 
have also seen, on several occasions, a hand presented 
wrapped in a membrane closely resembling the placental 
membrance. The impression produced, both as to 
sight and touch, was precisely that of a hand presenta- 
tion in childbirth, when the amnion is unbroken. 

Another analogy with childbirth is that of pain. 
The moans and movements of the entranced medium 
remind one strangely of a woman in travail. 

The proposed assimilation of normal to supernormal 
physiology is therefore legitimate, for it results from 
the examination of facts. It raises, however, some serious 
objections, which we shall briefly examine. 

In the first place, it may be objected, that if normal 
and supernormal physiology both result from the same 
biologic process, whence comes their apparent diversity } 
Why is the one regular, and the other exceptional, cut 
off from the usual accessories of time, space, generative 
conditions, etc. ? We reply that normal physiology is 
the product of organic activity such as evolution has 
made it. The creative and directing idea normally 
works in a given sense, that of the evolution of the 
species, and conforms to the manner of that evolution. 
Supernormal physiology, on the other hand, is the 
product of ideoplastic activity directed in a divergent 
manner by an abnormal effort of the directing idea. 

To explain this activity, divergent from the usual 
conditions, there is no need to invoke a miraculous or 
supernormal agency. Science and philosophy are logi- 
cally harmonised by an explanation at once more simple 
and more satisfying. These abnormal ideoplastic possi- 
bilities, these apparently mysterious powers over Matter, 
simply prove ihat the laws which preside over the 
material world have not the absolute and inflexible 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

rigour which they were thought to have; they are only 
relative. Their action may be temporarily or accidentally 
modified or suspended. 



These notions as to the sequence and the facts of 
materialisation being established, it will be easy, con- 
formably with our method, to understand the less complex 
facts of so-called supernormal physiology, which are so 
inexplicable when considered apart from other facts. 

The phenomena of telekinesis (movement of objects 
without contact) are explicable by the action of the vital 
dynamism exteriorised and obeying a subconscious 

The experiments by Ochorowicz^ have clearly 
established the genesis of this phenomenon. They show 
the meaning, from this point of view, of the elementary 
forms of materialisation, the threads of substance and 
rigid rods, sometimes visible, sometimes invisible, pro- 
ceeding from the fingers of the medium and serving as a 
substratum to the exteriorised dynamism. The facts 
of telekinesis, though less complex, are of no less 
importance than those of materialisation. I do not 
think it necessary to describe them, but simply refer 
the reader to special works on the subject.* 

* Annales des Sciences Psychiques. 

' See especially the luminous report of M. Courtier on the experi- 
ments made by the Psychological Institute with the medium Eusapia 
Palladino in 1905, 1906, 1907, on the premises of the Institute, by MM. 
D'Arsonval, Gilbert Ballet, M. et Mme Curie, Bergson, Ch. Richet, and 
de Gramont. Here, for instance, are the accounts given by M. Coiirtier 
of two of these experiments : — 

I. 'At the fourth s6ance of 1905, a table weighing 15 lb. with a weight 
of 22 lb. placed on it, was twice completely raised for several seconds. 
This was also done at the sixth seance, when the feet of the table near 
the subject were encased in a sheath. . . . 

'At the moment of the raising of the table, M. D'Arsonval and M, 
Ballet were completely controlling the hands and knees of Eusapia, an4 

6^ o 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

The phenomena of stigmatisation and affections of 
the skin effected by suggestion or auto-suggestion, are 
but elementary ideoplastic effects much more simple 
than materialisations, though of the same order. 

Miraculous healing, so called, is a result of the same 
ideoplasticity directed by suggestion or auto-suggestion 
in a sense favourable to organic repair, and concentrating 
for this purpose all the energies of the vital dynamism. 
It is to be remarked that this subconscious and recupera- 
tive ideoplastic force is much more active in the lower 
animals than in man; no doubt because with him cerebral 
activity engrosses the greater part of his vital activity. 
There is no miracle in ascribing to the human organism 
some part of the dynamic and ideoplastic action which 
is the rule in the lower grades of the animal scale. 

The phenomena of mimetism so frequent in animal 
form.s and so mysterious in their mechanism, may also be 

no contact was made with the legs of the table. . . . We must also 
remember the complete levitations of tables at the end of stances when 
every one was standing up, under conditions of control of which precise 
and circumstantial stenographic notes were taken. 

' The tables were then raised to greater heights than during the stances, 
as much as 80 centimetres to a metre from fiie floor, the hands and feet 
of the subject being rigorously controlled. 

2. Movements of the small table towards and away from the medium. 
'This table advances and retreats . . . when it advances towards her 
it might be imagined that in spite of stringent precautions against fraud, 
she uses a thread fine enough to be invisible and draws the table by 
this means. . . . But how can its retreat be explained ? Let us suppose 
that one of those present should take Eusapia's place and act by ordinary 
means. Only one procedure can be imagined — to hold a rigid rod and 
push and pull the table by its means. But a rigid rod, however thin, 
could not escape the sight of closely attentive observers. There 
could be no question of retreat obtained by passing the thread over a 
pulley or some projection from the wall, which would involve prepara- 
tion. The recording apparatus was, of course, entirely motionless; and 
on the other hand any supposition of collective hallucination must be 
set aside, as the Marey's cylinder recorded the displacements of the table. 
Further, it is to be observed that this is no question of attractions and 
repulsions like those of a magnet, alwaya quick and in a fixed direction. 
The table is moved relatively slowly, and its path is curved and irregular. 
It avoids obstacles to reach a final position.' 

I have cited these observations of the skilled experimenters of the 
Psychological Institute, not for their special value, which is inconsiderable 
in view of the great variety and complexity of the phenomena of tele- 
kinesis; but only in order to give one undeniable and irrefutable instance. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

explained by subconscious ideoplasticity. Instinct would 
direct the ideoplasticity in a given direction and the 
effects would be fixed by selection and adaptation.^ 

The table below shows in a striking manner the 
contrast between the new and the classical concepts. 



Classical Concepts. 
The organism is a mere 
cellular complex. The vital 
dynamism is but the result- 
ant synthesis of biologic 
sequence and physiological 

Primordial vital fact: 


Specific form : mysterious. 

Formation of the organism : 

Maintenance of the organ- 
ism: vague and insuffi- 
cient hypotheses. 

Repair of the organism: 
vague and insufficient 

Embryonic development: 

Post-embryonic develop- 
ment : mysterious. 

Metamorphoses : 


Histolysis of the Insect: 

^ See, in this connection, Les Miracles de la VolonU, by £. Duchatd 
and Warcollier. 


New Concept. 
The organic complex, its 
physiological functions, 
and all the vital process, 
are conditioned by a 
superior dynamism. 

Ail these phenomena are 
easily explicable by the 
action of a superior dynam- 
ism, generating, directing, 
centralising, preserving, 
and repairing the organ- 
ism. The concrete notion 
of this dynamism must be 
substituted for the abstract 
notion of a directive idea. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Sensorial manifestations All these phenomena are 
outside the organs of explicable by the action 
sense : mysterious. of the vital dynamism act- 

Motor manifestations out- ing outside the organism, 
side the muscular sys- This dynamism conditions 
tem: mysterious. the organism in place of 

Ideoplastic manifestations: being conditioned by it. 
mysterious. It can therefore separate 

Materialisations: itself from it, and even 

mysterious. partially disorganise and 
reorganise it in diverse 
forms and representations. 

It is clear that the mystery in which physiology 
was enveloped is in some measure dispelled; the triple 
concept of the unity of substance, the organising 
dynamism, and the conditioning of this latter by the 
Idea, enables us to make a decided step towards truth. 

But how much still remains unknown! 

What are the origin, the end, and the exact nature 
of this dynamo-psychism which organises, centralises 
and directs the cellular complex ? How does this 
mysterious dynamo-psychism exist potentially in the 
fertilised ovum, in the cutting, or in the bud, whence a 
new creature will grow ? What, in a word, is its exact 
relation to all vital process } We have spoken of ideo- 
plastic power. But what exactly is this power ? The 
directing idea, and the ideoplastic capacities which 
normal and supernormal physiology reveal, do not 
depend on the consciousness in which we are accustomed 
to sum up and localise our * Self.' They arise from the 
depths of a mysterious and impenetrable unconscious- 

The conscious directing will of our being has no 
action on the great organic functions, and does not come 
into play for the ideoplastic materialisations. These, 
produced at the expense of the substance of the organism, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

seem, nevertheless, often if not always, to be directed 
and formed outside that organism by entities distinct 
from it. 

Will it then be said that to speak of ideoplasticity, 
the modelling of matter by the Idea, and of an organising 
dynamo-psychism is only to push the mystery further 
back, not to solve it ? Will it be said that the enigma 
is not less insoluble for being put back one step ? 
Insoluble! By no means! 

The truth is, once more, that starting from the 
elementary but essential data which have emerged from 
our demonstration, the biological problem becomes 
terribly complex. 

It is not related to physiology alone, but to psychology, 
to all the natural sciences, and to philosophy. 

In a word, we are dealing no longer with Life alone, 
but with the whole constitution and evolution of the 
universe and the individual. 

Before closing the reference to physiology we must 
enter upon a new and larger application of the synthetic 
method. We must interrogate first psychology, and 
then philosophy; the partial answers which we now 
feel the want of, will be given by the general answer to 
the great enigma, which is the aim of the present work. 



The bankruptcy of the classical concept of physiological 
individuality has now been demonstrated. We shall 
next show that the classical psychological concept is 
equally defective. 

It is based on two principal notions: — 

1. The notion of the Self as a synthesis of states of 


2. The notion of the close dependence of all that 

constitutes a thinking being on the functions 
of the nervous centres. 
These two essential propositions will now be 
successively examined. 


In succession to the physiological concept quoted 
from M. Dastre (Ch. I.), let us consider the psychological 
concept which we borrow from M. Ribot.^ 

' The organism^ and the brain which is its supreme 
representation^ are the real personality^ containing in 
itself the remnants of what we have been and the 
possibilities of what we shall be. The individual 
character in its entirety is inscribed there, its active 
and passive aptitudes, its sympathies and anti- 
pathies, its genius, its wisdom, or its foolishness, its 
virtues and its vices, its torpor or its activity. That 

* Ribot : L»s Maladies de la PersonnaliU. (Italics are Dr Geley's.) 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

part which emerges into consciousness is slight in 
comparison with that which, though always acting, 
remains buried. The conscious is always but a small 
•part of the psychic personality. 

* The unity of the Self is not therefore that single 
entity claimed by spiritualists, manifest in many 
phenomena, but the co-ordination of a number of states 
perpetually renewed, having as their only link the 
vague sensations of our bodies. This unity does 
not proceed from above downwards, but from below 
upwards ; it is not an initial but a terminal point. . . .* 

* The Self is a co-ordination. It oscillates between 
two extreme points at each of which it ceases to 
exist — perfect unity or absolute lack of co-ordination. 

' The last word in all this is ; that the consensus 
of consciousness being subordinate to the consensus 
of the organism, the problem of the unity of the 
Self is, in its simplest form, a biological problem. 
It is for biology to explain, if it can, the genesis of 
organisms and the solidarity of their parts. The 
psychological interpretation can but follow.* 

Le Dantec comes to the same conclusions.* Indi- 
vidual consciousness, according to him, is but the sum 
of consciousness of all the neurons, so that * our Self 
will be determined by the number, nature, dispositions, 
and reciprocal connections among the elements of our 
nervous system.' 

It appears then that for the contemporaneous classical 
psycho-physiology the conscious Self has no essential 
unity; it is a mere co-ordination of states, just as the 
organism to which it is linked is a mere co-ordination of 

The objections which arise to this are the same as 
those which hold with regard to the physiological concept 
of the individual ; they take no account of the need for 

* Le Dantec : Le Ddierminisme Biologique et la Personnaliti Conscient ; 
UlndividualiU ; TMorie nouvelle de la Vie. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

a directing and centralising principle, creating the Self 
and maintaining its permanence. 

Le Dantec thus explains the permanence of the 

* Individual consciousness,* he says, * is not 
invariable; it is slowly and continuously modified 
along with the incessant changes produced in our 
organism by the functional assimilation which accom- 
panies all our acts; it is this which constitutes the 
variation of our personality; but in accordance with 
the laws of assimilation and the specific coherence 
of plastic substances, there will be continuity in 
time between these successive personalities; and it 
is for this reason that the psychological Self accom- 
panies the physiological individual through all its 
unceasing modifications from birth to death.* 

By a reaction against the old vitalist or spiritualist 
hypotheses, this concept of the Self as an elementary 
synthesis is accepted by the vast majority of contem- 
porary psycho-physiologists, all their efforts being 
directed to force it into agreement with the usual con- 
sciousness of personal unity. Hoeffding,^ Paulhan,* 
Wundt,^ and many others have rivalled each other in 
this impossible task. To get over the difficulty they 
sometimes have recourse to psycho-metaphysical entities. 
Claude Bernard in physiology invoked the * Directing 
Idea.* Wundt, in psychology, attributes the unifying 
function to what he calls * apperception.* 

These subtleties have not advanced the matter a 
single step. * Whatever point of view we take,* says 
Boutroux, * multiplicity does not contain a reason for 
unity.* * 

*HoefFding: ^squisse d'une Psychologic Fondie sur I'ExpMenes. 

•Paulhan: L'ActiviU Mentale. 

" Wundt : Physiologische Psychologic. 

* Boutroiuc : De la Contingence des Lois de la Nature. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

This is obvious, and the time has come to draw the 
logical inference from this aphorism. To do this it is 
necessary to get rid of all abstractions, preconceived 
ideas, and vain disputes over names. 

The question is very simple and admits of no 
equivocal answer: Is the Self merely a synthesis of 
elements, or is it not } 

Is this synthesis the sum of the consciousness of 
neurons closely and exclusively linked to the functioning 
of the nervous centres, or is it not } Yes, or No } 

This is what we have to examine by the light of all 
psychological facts. 



The classical concept is based on the old notion of 
psycho-physiological parallelism, in support of which 
the following arguments are adduced. 

The development of conscious intelligence accom- 
panies the development of the organism, and its later 
progressive diminution is parallel with senile decay. 

Psychological activity is proportional to the activity 
of the nervous centres. 

Psychological activity disappears in the repose ot 
those centres in sleep or in syncope. 

Psychological activity implies the normal function 
of the nervous centres; lesions of these centres, infection, 
or serious intoxication affecting the brain, disturb, 
restrain, or suppress psychic action altogether. 

This psychic action is closely conditioned by the 
extent of the organic powers and is inseparable from 
them. The materials which the intellect uses come from 
the senses : * Nihil est In Intellectu quod non prlus fuerlt 
in sensu.'' Therefore the range of the senses limits the 
range of conscious intelligence. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Finally, all psychological faculties arise from clear 
and definable cerebral localities. The destruction of 
one of these centres extinguishes the corresponding 

Such is the classical teaching so long considered 
unquestionable, and generally unquestioned. Neverthe- 
less serious difficulties have recently arisen and forced 
themselves on our attention. 



In the first place the parallelism, analysed by the 
light of new facts does not seem so close as was thought; 
the attempts at cerebral localisation which promised 
so well, have been checked if not ended. The work of 
Pierre Marie, and the thesis of Moutier have proved 
that the best established localisation, that of speech in 
the third frontal on the left side is not rigidly correct. 
Speech, like all other functions, requires that several 
centres should work together. 

Certain pathological cases have proved that the 
excision of large portions of the brain in the very parts 
which were thought essential, may be followed by no 
grave psychic disturbance, and no restriction of per- 

Here is an abstract of the principal cases, quoted 
from the Annates des Sciences Psychiques of Jan., 1917.^ 

* M. Edmond Perrier brought before the French 
Academy of Sciences at the session of December 
22nd, 191 3, the case observed by Dr R. Robinson; 
of a man who lived a year, nearly without pain, and 
without any mental disturbance, with a brain reduced 
to pulp by a huge purulent abscess. In July, 19 14, 

* Summary by M. de Vesme. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Dr Hallopeau reported to the Surgical Society an 
operation at the Necker Hospital, the patient being 
a young girl who had fallen out of a carriage on the 
Metropolitan Railway. After trephining, it was 
observed that a considerable portion of cerebral 
substance had been reduced literally to pulp. The 
wound was cleansed, drained, and closed, and the 
patient completely recovered.' 

The following report of the session of the Academy 
of Sciences at Paris, March 24th, 1917, appeared in the 
Paris newspapers: — 

* Partial removal of the brain, — Following on 
previous communications on this operation, which 
runs counter to ideas generally received, Dr A. Guepin 
of Paris communicates a fresh study on this question. 
He mentions that his jfirst patient, the soldier Louis 

R , to-day a gardener near Paris, in spite of 

the loss of a very large part of his left cerebral hemi- 
sphere (cortex, white substance, central nuclei, etc.), 
continues to develop intellectually as a normal subject, 
in despite of the lesions and the removal of con- 
volutions considered as the seat of essential functions. 
From this typical case, and nine analogous cases by 
the same operator, known to the Academy, Dr Guepin 
says that it may now safely be concluded: — 

(i). That the partial amputation of the brain 
in man is possible, relatively easy, and saves certain 
wounded men whom received theory would regard 
as condemned to certain death, or to incurable 

* (2). That these patients seem not in any way 
to feel the loss of such a cerebral region. 

* This study is referred to Dr Laveran for a 
separate report.* 

This question is obviously of such importance in 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

the present connection and from the general human 
point of view, that we think it useful to translate and 
reproduce here, part of an address by Dr Augustin 
Iturricha, President of the Anthropological Society of 
Sucre (Chuquisaca, Bolivia), at a session of that 
society : — 

* Here, moreover, are facts still more surprising 
from the clinic of Dr Nicholas Ortiz, which Dr 
Domingo Guzman has had the kindness to com- 
municate to me. The authenticity of the observations 
cannot be doubted, they proceed from two authorities 
of high standing in our scientific world. 

* The first case refers to a boy of 12 to 14 years 
of age, who died in full use of his intellectual faculties 
although the encephalic mass was completely detached 
from the bulb, in a condition which amounted to real 
decapitation. What must have been the stupefaction 
of the operators at the autopsy, when, on opening 
the cranial cavity, they found the meninges heavily 
charged with blood, and a large abscess involving 
nearly the whole cerebellum, part of the brain and 
the protuberance. Nevertheless the patient, shortly 
before, was known to have been actively thinking. 
They must necessarily have wondered how this could 
possibly have come about. The boy complained of 
violent headache, his temperature was not below 
39 °C. (io2.2°F.) ; the only marked symptoms 
being dilatation of the pupils, intolerance of light, 
and great cutaneous hyperesthesia. Diagnosed as 

' The second case is not less unusual. It is 
that of a native aged 45 years, suffering from cerebral 
contusion at the level of Broca's convolution, with 
fracture of the left temporal and parietal bones. 
Examination of the patient revealed rise of tempera- 
ture, aphasia, and hemiplegia of the right side. The 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

director and physicians of the clinic undertook an 
interesting experiment in re-education of speech; 
they succeeded in getting him to pronounce con- 
sciously and intelligibly eight to ten words. Unfor- 
tunately the experiment could not be continued, 
the patient after twenty days showed a great rise 
in temperature, acute cephalalgia, and died thirty 
hours later. The autopsy revealed a large abscess 
occupying nearly the whole left cerebral hemisphere. 
In this case also we must ask, How did this man 
manage to think ? What organ was used for thought 
after the destruction of the region which, according 
to physiologists, is the seat of intelligence ? 

* A third case, coming from the same clinic, is 
that of a young agricultural labourer, i8 years of 
age. The post mortem revealed three communicating 
abscesses, each as large as a tangerine orange, 
occupying the posterior portion of both cerebral 
hemispheres, and part of the cerebellum. In spite 
of these the patient thought as do other men, so 
much so that one day he asked for leave to settle 
his private affairs. He died on re-entering the 

Psycho-physiological parallelism is therefore entirely 
relative. This is not all. Many other objections arise 
counter to the classical concept, without going outside 
commonplace and ordinary psychology. M. Dwel- 
shauvers has summed up clearly the chief of these 
objections in his book, U Inconscient. 

In the first place the localisations are simply and 
solely anatomical. 

* To start the cerebral cells of the localised centres 
into action, presupposes a preliminary excitation, and 
this excitation arises from a psycho-physiological act 
which cannot be localised. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

* There are no psycho-physiological localisations ; 
localisation is purely fantastic. 

* And if it is impossible to localise the least 
sensation, it is much more so to assign determinate 
areas in the cerebral cortex to what used to be termed 
"faculties"; abstraction, will, sensation, imagina- 
tion, and memory.* 

Therefore the materialist hypotheses which made 
thought a secretion of the brain, and would assign 
centres to mental faculties, are erroneous. 

* There are no special nervous centres, one 
presiding over abstraction, another over the emotions, 
another over memory, another over imagination. 
This cerebral mythology is given up; our spiritual 
activity does not obey local divinities erected by 
credulous scientists in the different corners of their 
cerebral schemes.* 

Further, it seems really impossible * to explain 
mental by cerebral activity, and to reduce the former 
to the latter.* In fact, * each time that the thinking 
being is not limited to repetition, but acquires some 
new thing, he transcends the mechanism resident in 
him . . . the effort goes beyond the acquirement; 
he combines what has already been acquired with 
the new impressions; and this implies an increase 
of activity on his part. The cerebral mechanism lags 
behind the intelligence. ... In this activity, which 
is really progressive and characteristic of human 
effort, there is a synthesis perpetually renewed which 
is not a repetition of what has already been acquired. 
This effort, which is proper to mental life, is to be 
observed among animals also, when, being placed 
in unusual conditions, they modify their habits and 
adapt themselves to the altered circumstances. , , ,* 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

^Therefore J there is no strict parallelism between the 
biological and the -psychological sequence ; the latter transcends 
the former J' "^ 
There is a final and important argument. 

* Education, from first sensations up to the 
grouping of ideas, consists (as to its anatomical and 
physiological conditions) in the association of numer- 
ous elements, none of which is in itself, properly 
speaking, psychological, but which are, in fact, 
exceedingly complex movements. In reference to 
them psychological activity appears indeed as a 
synthesis, but this synthesis is different from the elements 
of which it is composed^ it is other than those elements J' ^ 

The arguments we have now reviewed displace the 
old absolute psycho-physiological parallelism. They 
displace it even without going outside current common- 
place psychology, which is to-day known to be only a 
part, and the less important part, of individual psychism. 
We have kept our summary of the difficulties of the 
classical theory within the limits of its own method, 
by keeping to the analysis of elementary facts. We shall 
now see what results are "given by the opposite method 
adopted in this work; we shall consider first the highest 
and most complex qualities of the psychological being, 
namely, its subconscious psychism. 
iMy italics, G. G. 



It has been said that * the subconscious is the problem 
of psychology, rather than a psychological problem.* 

This is profoundly true; every investigation, every 
theory, every philosophical concept w^hich does not 
allow to the Unconscious its legitimate part (which is 
the weightier part), is at onc^ falsified in its essence 
and in its teaching. Facts immediately rise up against 
it and nullify it. 

It is only in our own day that subconscious psychology 
has forced itself on scientific criticism. Entirely dis- 
regarded till the nineteenth century, it was then con- 
sidered only as the anomalous outcome of disease or 
accident; it now asserts its increasing importance, and 
henceforward all researches and all new discoveries form 
parts of its domain and extend its reach. 

We are compelled to allow to the Unconscious a 
primary function in instinct, in inborn character, in 
latent psychism, and in genius. In every modern work 
that appears, subconscious psychism takes a larger and 
larger place and is seen to be infinitely complex and 
varied. Its functions are shown to be clearly prepon- 
derant in all the departments of intellectual and affectional 

The well-known work of Dr Chabaneix, Le Suh- 
conscient chez les Artistes^ les Savants^ et les EcrivainSy 
gives a certain number of striking examples. Indeed 
examples are innumerable; it may be said that there is 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

no artist, man of science, or writer of any distinction, 
however little disposed to self-analysis, who is not aware 
by personal experience of the unequalled importance of 
the subconscious.* 

This subconscious influence is sometimes imperative 
and supreme; it is then called * inspiration.* 

Under its influence the artist or the inventor pro- 
duces his work (sometimes a masterpiece) at one stroke, 
without pondering over it or reasoning about it; it 
often transcends his design without efibrt on his part. 
The subconscious inspiration is sometimes experienced 
in sleep in the form of lucid and connected dreams. 

More frequently the Conscious and the Unconscious 
would seem to collaborate. The work is initiated by 
an act of the will, and completed partly by considered 
effort and partly by spontaneous and involuntary inspira- 
tion. This collaboration sometimes ends in results quite 
different from those at first intended. It is very rare 
that any great artist or writer draws up the plan of his 
work and follows it faithfully, from beginning to end, 
composing regularly and without interruption, as a 
mason builds a house. 

A great artist works irregularly; the plan as first 
conceived undergoes great and sometimes complete 
alteration. The outlines do not follow one from another 
regularly from the beginning to completion; they vary 
according to the inspiration ' of the moment. In fact 
the artist is not master of his inspiration; it is sometimes 
absent; and if he persists, he will on that day produce 
only moderate work which he will afterwards reject. 

If he is wise enough not to persist, he will find 
himself able on some other day to complete the work 
as if by enchantment, for the subconscious activity has 
proceeded during repose; especially during sleep. 

* I think it needless to cite well-known examples. Besides the work 
of Dr Chabaneix, M. Dwelshauvers' L' Inconscient may be referred to; 
and generally, other works on the same subject. 

85 H 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

An artist is quite aware whether he is inspired or not. 
If he is, the work proceeds easily, almost without check, 
to his complete satisfaction or even exultation. If he 
is not, he experiences fatigue not only of mind, but of 
body also; he makes constant false starts, and his 
wearisome and painful efforts are accompanied with a 
sense of powerlessness and discouragement. Inspiration 
does not come from effort; on the contrary, it comes 
often when least expected, and especially when the mind 
is at ease; not during the times of connected work. 

There are writers and artists who always keep a 
notebook handy in order to note down whatever the 
caprice of inspiration may whisper, some verses to a 
poet; a philosophic point to a thinker; the solution of 
some problem vainly attempted, to a man of science; 
a happy phrase to a literary man, etc., etc. Thus they 
keep on the watch for the beneficent action of inspiration ; 
in the study, or during a walk; alone or in a crowd; in 
bed, or in the train which takes them on a journey; in 
the carriage on the way to business; in the midst of 
some social reunion; in the course of some common- 
place conversation to which they are barely listening 
and answering by monosyllables ; sometimes in conscious 

In the most remarkable cases of subconscious 
collaboration, it seems that the work consciously begun 
is elaborated little by little in the subconsciousness, with 
a definite plan, with all its divisions and details, till it 
reaches completion. But these divisions and details 
come only by degrees and not in a regular order and 
sequence. It is only when the work is far advanced 
that the plan and the arrangement of its parts appear. 
The action resembles putting together a kind of sub- 
conscious puzzle, and the artist or the writer (and it is 
more especially to writers that we refer) has to make an 
effort to allocate correctly the pages or the phrases 
which have been subconsciously inspired. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

When the work is finished it is found to be quite 
different from the plan sketched out; but it may give 
an impression of beauty and order above the writer's 
own powers; it seems to be partly strange to him and 
he may even admire it as if it were not his own. 

There are all possible degrees and modes in this 
collaboration of the conscious and the unconscious. 
Certain artists and writers, usually (but not always) of 
moderate ability, do not perceive this. They quite 
sincerely think that all they produce is the result of 
their own endeavours. Others perceive it more or less 
and use it without questioning its origin. Others again, 
understand it so well that they restrain effort, and are 
quite aware whether or not they are making progress 
or are straying into byways. 

Inspiration, however, except in very rare cases, does 
not dispense from effort. It simply fertilises effort and 
reduces it to a minimum. Effort, however, cannot dis- 
pense with inspiration, and it is in the collaboration of 
both that the highest and best work is produced. 
Without rationalised effort and conscious control, even 
the inspiration of genius is liable to stray. Disordered 
and uncontrolled inspiration may result in fine work 
disfigured by want of proportion, by want of order, by 
redundance, errors, and mistakes. 

Just as a virgin forest presents magnificent foliage 
against the sky, and dark impenetrable thickets stifled by 
parasitic vegetation, so in a powerful work the beauty 
of genius may disappear under clumsy errors and aberra- 
tions resulting from creative inspiration unrestrained by 
sane and healthy consciousness. 

Side by side with inspiration must be placed Intuition, 
also subconscious and all-powerful, on the one condition 
that it is under due control by reasoned judgment. 

The data of intuition lie beyond facts, experiences, 
and reflection, and surpass them all. Intuition is the 
very essence of subconsciousness. Outlined only in 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

the animal, where it appears as instinct, it acquires in 
man the higher aspect of genius. 

The subconscious reveals itself not by inspiration 
and intuition alone, but also by frequent intrusions of 
emotional, aesthetic, or religious thought. Unexpected 
decisions, abrupt changes of opinion, many unreasoned 
feelings, originate largely in subconsciousness or from 
subconscious collaboration. 

Who can say if even some ideas which seem to us 
the result of reason, may not be the flowering of an 
invisible and subconscious growth ? 

Finally, all the foundations of our being, that which 
is the principal part of the Self, innate capacities, good 
or bad dispositions, character — ^all that makes the 
essential difference between one mind and another — all 
that is not the results of personal effort, of education, 
or of surrounding examples, are modes of subconscious- 

Effort, education, and surrounding examples may 
develop that which is inborn and essential, they cannot 
create it. The subconsciousness whose activity con- 
stitutes that cryptopsychism whose far-reaching effects 
we have reviewed, is the innate and essential groundwork 
of our being. 


Cryptomnesia — the subconscious memory — follows 
naturally on cryptopsychism. 

In point of fact, the subconscious not only contains 
that which is psychically essential in the Self; it also 
preserves and conceals all that the Self seems to have 
acquired by conscious psychic action in the course of 

It does not forget; it keeps all, integrally. 

Cryptomnesia may be observed both in normal and 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

in abnormal psychology; but it is naturally more 
prominent in the latter. 

Flournoyi is perhaps the psychologist who of all 
others has studied cryptomnesia most thoroughly. 
The fact of the re-emergence of forgotten memories 
which the mind wrongly takes to be new and unpub- 
lished matter, is, he says, much more frequent than is 

* Plain men, as well as great geniuses, are subject 
to these lapses of memory, bearing not on its actual 
content, since that very content reappears with 
distressing and treacherous accuracy, but on the 
local and temporary associations which would, if 
remembered, have caused its recognition as matter 
already seen, and would have prevented the user 
from decking himself in borrowed plumes. Helen 
Keller — the famous blind deaf-mute — who, at eleven 
years old, composed her story of the Frost-king, 
found herself most unjustly and cruelly accused of 
plagiarism because this story presented a marked 
likeness to a story which had been read to her three 
years before. Nietzsche's Zarathustra has been 
discovered to contain little details coming, unknown 
to him, from a work of Kerner's which he had studied 
when 12 to 15 years old. But it is among persons 
most disposed to mental dissociation and duplicate 
personality that cryptomnesia reaches a climax.* 

A classical example of cryptomnesia in normal 
psychology is the instantaneous recollection of latent 
impressions at a time of violent psychological disturbance, 
such as may be produced by the sudden danger of 
accidental death. Cases have been cited in which all the 
events of a lifetime, all its acts and thoughts, even those 
which were insignificant and quite forgotten, are said 
to have passed through the mind. 

* Floumoy : Esprits et Mediums. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Cryptomnesia may also appear in dreams. 

The classical case of Delboeuf^ is quite characteristic 
in this respect: in a complicated dream he saw, among 
other things, a plant with its botanical name, Asplenium 
ruta muraria. Now Delboeuf was totally ignorant of 
this name, or thought he was. After long search he 
found that two years before he had turned over the 
leaves of a botanical album and there had seen both the 
plant and the name, of which he had not thought again. 

In hypnosis and connected states cryptomnesia some- 
times is strikingly manifested. If the subject is carried 
back, spontaneously or by suggestion to a remote period 
of his life, all the forgotten impressions reappear and 
the psychism manifested is precisely that which he had 
at that age. The experiments of Janet, and, subsequently, 
those of de Rochas, on the regression of memory have 
brought this out clearly. 

Sometimes the subject, in this state of regression to 
a former age, shows knowledge totally forgotten, such as 
a language learned in childhood. Pitres ^ cites the case 
of a patient, Albertine M., who thus used the -patois 
of Saintonge, which she had only spoken in childhood. 
During this regressional delirium, says Pitres, * she 
expressed herself in -patois^ and if we begged her to speak 
in French she invariably answered, always in -patois^ 
that she did not know the talk of the townspeople.* 

Take, also, the famous case of one of Flournoy's 
subjects, who, in a state of mediumistic somnambulism, 
spoke in Sanskrit, a tongue of which he was completely 
ignorant, and had never learned. Flournoy, in spite of 
all his investigations, could never discover the origin of 
this phenomenon. • 

It is in mediumship that cryptomnesia shows a climax. 
It may be the unsuspected source of quite stupefying 

* Quoted by M. Dwelshauvers. 

» Pitres : L'Hysterie et I Hypnotisme. 

* Flournoy : Des Indes d la Planite Mars. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

M. Flournoy cites a number of facts which he 
attributes entirely to cryptomnesia, — mediums giving 
biographical details of persons unknown to them but 
which they may have unconsciously known from a 
forgotten glance at a newspaper which contained those 
details; mediums speaking fragments of a language 
of which they are ignorant simply because these phrases 
have fallen under their eyes on some forgotten occasion, 
etc., etc. 

* In fine,' Flournoy concludes, ' by whatever mode the 
mnemonic content has been received, whether by 
reading, conversation, etc., it emerges in sensorial 
automatisms (visions, voices, etc.), in motor automatisms 
(raps or automatic writing), or in total automatisms 
(trances, controls, or somnambulistic personifications). 
This diversity, of course, is further complicated by the 
embroidery which the fancy of the medium adds to 
fragments properly referred to cryptomnesia.' 

Among the examples given by Flournoy there are 
some of the most remarkable kind. Some are here 

Case of Eliza Wood. — Mrs Wood, widowed in the 
previous week, received a visit from a friend, Mme 
Darel (the well-known authoress of Geneva), who 
possessed remarkable mediumistic faculties. Mme Darel 
brought to her, on behalf of the defunct, the following 
message, obtained at her table: ' Tell her to remember 
Easter Monday.* It was a striking allusion to an event 
known only to Mr and Mrs Wood, referring to a walk 
kept secret from their families, prior to their engagement, 
which had left an ineffaceable memory. This striking 
proof of identity convinced Mrs Wood, who soon had 
a second, still more valid, at the seances which she 
attended at Mme Darel's house. Mr Wood had died 
not long after their wedding trip, his widow thought 
he had left no will, and the search which she made was 
fruitless, till the day when she and Mme Darel were 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

at the table, which, on the part of the defunct, rapped 
out: * You will find something from me under a saucer 
in the drawer of the washstand.* She found there a 
sheet of paper constituting the document in question. 
She then remembered that when they were just starting 
on their journey, her husband had made her wait a 
moment while he returned on some pretext to their 
bedroom, evidently to write and hide his will there.' 

* Now,* says M. Flournoy, * there is nothing to prove 
that Mme Darel or one of her people, out for a walk 
on Easter Monday (which is a holiday) in the environs 
of Geneva, had not met the pair, or seen them from a 
distance, and this forgotten impression may have been 
the source of the message which so impressed the young 
widow; similarly the second message regarding the 
hidden will may well have been due to reminiscences 
and subconscious inferences of Mrs Wood's.* 

Case of the Cur^ Burnet. — Flournoy 's subject pro- 
duced one day a message claiming to be from one Burnet, 
who had died a century previously, the cur 6 of a commune 
in the department Haute Savoie. The researches of the 
professor showed the absolute identity of the writing 
and the signature to the message with that of the deceased 

How can this be explained } The medium, M. 
Flournoy supposes, had once, in childhood, passed 
through the commune where the cure had lived. He 
had (on Flournoy's hypothesis) seen on some document, 
such, for example, as an old marriage contract, the 
writing and the signature of the curd. He had not, 
however, the slightest recollection of this journey. It 
was therefore a question of some impression received 
without conscious knowledge forgotten, but yet intact, 
which, in the hypnotic state, had awaked this strange and 
perfect reminiscence. 

Along with these remarkable examples which spiritu- 
alists attribute, not to cryptomnesia but to post-mortem 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

manifestations, Flournoy gives many others, which, 
equally mysterious in appearance, certainly proceed 
from pure cryptomnesia ; mediums giving from supposed 
defunct persons proofs of identity found on inquiry to 
be erroneous, but conformable to records which had 
appeared in such and such a newspaper which had 
evidently fallen under the eyes of the medium at some 
moment or other without arousing conscious attention. 

However little philosophical thought one may bring 
to the study of subconscious psychology, what strikes 
one most forcibly is that it does not fall under any known 
physiological law. The same question inevitably recurs 
to the mind of the inquirer — why, and how, is it that 
the portion of the psychism which constitutes the more 
important part of the Self, remains cryptoid ? Why, and 
how, does it come to pass that the consciousness and 
the will of the living being, without which there would 
be no Self, let go the major part of that Self ? Whether 
the matter is cryptopsychic or cryptomnesic, the mystery 
is equally profound. It is physiologically impossible to 
understand how the conscious memory, under the control 
and the direction of the person, should be weak, untrust- 
worthy, and decrepit, while the subconscious memory, 
only accessible incidentally or in abnormal or super- 
normal states, should seem both extensive and un- 

Nevertheless this is what everything tends to 

Yet more, the weakness and impotence of the normal 
memory is sometimes such that the subconscious know- 
ledge or powers which escape from the direction of the 
Self appear totally strange to the individual and constitute 
a secondary consciousness. 

In the bewildering complexity of the subconscious, 
there arise not only duplicate, but even multiple, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 


The chief problems which are presented by the 
appearance of secondary personalities, are two, both 
equally difficult. 

1. The problem of the psychological differences 

from the normal personality, differences not 
only of manner and will, but of general 
character, inclinations, faculties, and knowledge; 
differences occasionally so radical that they 
imply complete opposition and even hostility 
between the normal and the secondary per- 

2. The problem of the supernormal powers which 

are frequently linked with the manifestation of 
secondary personalities. 

Now although there are numerous works on multiple 
personality, which have brought to light the frequency, 
the importance, and the many forms of these manifesta- 
tions, they have done nothing towards the elucidation of 
these two problems. 

They have only succeeded in showing the abyss that 
exists between the commonplace personalities of hypnotic 
suggestion, devoid of originality of any kind, and the 
psychic changes arising from pathological or traumatic 
causes on the one hand, and the autonomous and complete 
personalities which sometimes seem to occupy the whole 
psychic field of the subject, on the other. 

They have, above all, shown the complete inability 
of the classical psycho-physiology to explain the super- 
normal faculties at all. 



Supernormal psychology is a world whose exploration 
is hardly begun. Without entering here on an analytical 
description which the reader will find in special works, 
it is expedient to examine its principal aspects as a whole. 

I. — supernormal physiology is conditioned by 


Imprimis^ supernormal physiology is conditioned by 
the supernormal psychology which has already been 

All the phenomena of exteriorisation, telekinesis, 
mysterious action on matter, materialisation and ideo- 
plasticity, in no way depend on the conscious will of the 
subject. They are always produced subconsciously; 
either, as it would seem, by the external will of an entity, 
or by a subconscious idea, or by a subconscious per- 

I do not, for the moment, insist further on this truth 
which is obvious to all observers in the supernormal 
domain. As I have shown in my book, UEtre Suh- 
conscient, supernormal physiology is merely an aspect 
and a province of supernormal psychology. It is 
inseparable from it, and cannot be observed or understood 
apart from it. 


In the second place, supernormal psychology includes 
mento-mental action, by which is to be understood those 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

efFects which are produced from mind to mind without 
any appreciable physical intermediary, such as thought- 
reading, mental suggestion, or telepathy. I see nothing 
to add to the summary of these reactions given in UEtre 
Subconscient^ here reproduced. Thought-reading seems 
well established in hypnotic and mediumistic states. It 
is the convenient, (much too convenient since much- 
abused), explanation of many facts. It seems, up to a 
certain point, to be possible in the waking state, or at 
least in a state of hypnosis or auto-hypnosis so slight as 
to pass unperceived. 

Outside hypnosis and mediumship, thought-reading 
is rarely observable in any satisfactory manner. Cases 
of alleged thought-reading obtained by contact between 
the agent and the subject, must be excluded, for these 
are often the results of divination by unconscious muscular 

Mental suggestion. — The possibility and reality of 
mental suggestion have been proved in the most rigorous 

An order suggested by the magnetiser can be trans- 
mitted by a mere effort of the will, without any external 
manifestation, when the patient is in the hypnotic state. 

Mental suggestion may be effected at a distance, 
sometimes at very considerable distances, and across 
material obstacles. 

Telepathy? — Telepathy consists essentially in the 
fact of a strong psychic impression generally unlooked 
for, produced in a normal person (either asleep or awake), 
which is found to coincide with a real distant event. 

Sometimes the psychic impression constitutes the 

* Vide the standard work of Dr Ochorowics : La Suggestion Mentale; 
aU required proofs will be found therein. 

• Phantasms of the Living, by Messrs Gumey, Myers, and Podmore, 
which contains 700 cases all well described and authenticated. See also 
Flammarion's book : L'Inconnu et les ProbUmes Psyckiques; also the 
file of Revues Psychiques, and more especially the Annates des Sciences 
Psychiques, which contains numerous very remarkable cases of telepathy, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

whole fact. Sometimes it is accompanied by a vision 
which appears objective and external to the percipient. 
Telepathy may be spontaneous or experimental.^ 
Spontaneous telepathy may be: — 
{a) Relative to some event in the immediate future, 
e.g. presentiments, premonitions, premonitory 
visions, apparitions of the dying. 
{F) Relating to the present or the recent past. 
Cases of second sight ' or intimations of distant 
events to persons in the normal state; appari- 
tions of the dead a few moments, hours, or 
days after decease; cases of apparitions of a 
living person usually then in abnormal or 
pathologic sleep (lethargy, febrile delirium, or 
nervous disturbance, etc). 
Most frequently the phenomenon refers to some 
person united to the percipient in more or less close bonds 
of affection. The cases usually relate to misfortunes; 
rarely to happy events; very rarely to indifferent ones. 

The telepathic manifestation is usually unexpected. 
It often occurs to persons alien to the marvellous both 
by tastes and occupations, and who are seldom so 
influenced more than once in their lives. 

It occurs either in waking life, or in sleep, which 
it interrupts. 

As to the phenomenon itself, two important charac- 
teristics should be noted: — 

{a) The telepathic vision is generally very precise; 
the details relating to the event and the sur- 
rounding circumstances are quite exact. 
(b) Neither distance nor intervening obstacles seem 

to have any appreciable effect. 
A third characteristic (exceptional) is the following. 
The vision may affect several persons either at the same 
time or successively — it seems able to affect animals 

* We shall not analyse experimental telepathy, which as yet 
covers only elementary facts. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

— sometimes it leaves physical traces. Finally, the 
telepathic impression may not affect sight alone, as in 
the case of a seemingly objective vision, but hearing and 
touch also. 


Lastly, supernormal psychology includes all the 
infinite varieties of lucidity; presentiments, sensorial 
impressions beyond the range of the senses, the precise 
vision of distant or past events, and even prevision of 
the future. 

Lucidity may be described as that subconscious 

faculty which permits the acquisition of knowledge 

without the assistance of the senses, and outside the 

conditions which, in normal life, regulate the relation 

of the Self with other selves or with the external world. 

{a) * Without the assistance of the senses.' The 

senses do not, in fact, intervene. The subject 

is asleep or anaesthetised; the events described 

are beyond the sensorial range; they are often 

far distant and shut off by physical barriers; 

the knowledge acquired relates sometimes to 

events which have not yet come to pass. The 

whole evidence shows that the senses are not 

in action. 

Nevertheless, by a psychological habit, the subject 

gives to his perceptions a sensorial semblance and refers 

them to sight or hearing; even in cases when neither 

sight nor hearing could possibly have been their cause. 

One subject, for instance, self-hypnotised by a glass 
of water or a crystal globe, claims to see therein past, 
future, or distant events. He is but projecting, exterior- 
ising, and objectifying, a sensation abnormally received. 

^ Consult specially Bozzano : Les Phinom^nes Primoniioires; and 
Dr Osty : LucidiU et Intuition. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

In another, the abnormal perception may cause an 
auditory illusion which may run to hallucination. 

(b) * Outside the conditions which in normal life 
regulate the relation of the Self with other 
selves or with the external world.' 

In fact these perceptions proceed neither from 
reasoning, nor from any of the normal modes of expressing 
thought, neither from language, nor writing, nor sight, 
nor hearing. They require neither induction nor 
deduction, reflection, research, nor effort. 

In its more perfect instances lucidity appears like a 
flash which suddenly illuminates the recipient and gives 
him, it may be, knowledge of an unknown fact removed 
from all possibilities of sensorial perception, or complex 
knowledge which would normally require much intricate 
work on many points of research.^ As lucidity shows 
itself to be beyond psychological conditions, whether 
sensorial, dynamic, or physical, so it also shows 
itself as being outside the conditions of time and 

Neither space nor material obstacles exist for it, 
and time seems to be unknown. 

The event which it reveals and the knowledge it 
gives, are not placed in Time at all. When, for instance, 
in the famous case of lucidity by Dr Gallet, he announces 
the election of M. Casimir Perrier to the Presidency of 
the Republic *by 451 votes,* this is given in the present 
and not in the future; * M. Casimir Perrier est e/u . . .' 
Similarly the Sonrel prediction of the wars of 1870-71, 
and 1 9 14-18, given in 1868, shows extremely precise 
and true details on both wars, but gives them in the 
present and not in the future. The visionary describes 
the disasters of 1870, Sedan, the siege of Paris, the 
Commune; the war of 19 14, beginning by a disaster 

* Psychic manifestations which suddenly bring out a calculation of 
probability or a result of subconscious reasoning are not to be confounded 
with lucidity. Such cases have only the semblance of lucidity. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

and ending in complete victory , , , as if these were 
events he were actually witnessing.* 


Under this title may be grouped all the phenomena 
which seem to be produced and directed by an external 
and autonomous intelligence acting through the physical, 
active, or psychic powers of a medium. I shall not enter 
here on the description of these, which the reader will 
easily find elsewhere,* but will content myself with a 
few remarks. 

In the first place, a very large part of supernormal 
psychology puts on these spiritoid semblances. The 
simplest as well as the most complex phenomena, from 
automatisms and telekinesis, up to predictions of the 
future, are very often attributed by the subject to spiritist 

The alleged personalities frequently make affirmations 
agreeing in this respect with those of the medium; and 
often endeavour to give proofs of their identity. These 
proofs are sometimes very simple, sometimes very 
intricate, as in the cases of cross-correspondence. 

Very often no other objection can be made to these 
spiritoid assertions except the possibility that they may 
all be explained by the supernormal faculties of the 
medium. In that case very large extensions of the 
faculties of crypto-psychism, cryptomnesia, second-sight, 
mento-mental action, lucidity, and teleplasticity must 
be admitted. 

For all the details of supernormal subconsciousness 
I must refer the reader to special works, for at the present 
moment I am not presenting these facts descriptively, 

* These astonishing cases, certainly true, were reported in detail, 
after minute investigation, in the Annates des Sciences Psychiques. 
* For the philosophic discussion of these facts, see Book II. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

or as data, but regarding them from a strictly philosophic 
point of view. 

From this standpoint what lesson can and ought to 
be drawn ? Surely that the subconscious everywhere 
outstrips and transcends the categories of sensorial and 
cerebral capacity; that in all essentials it is beyond all 
representations,* outside even the category of repre- 
sentations, that is to say, outside Space and Time. This 
will be brought out with all necessary clearness in 
a future chapter. 

But before doing this it is needful to examine the 
attempts that have been made to reconcile the phenomena 
of the Unconscious with the classical concept of the 
Self as a synthesis of states of consciousness and as a 
product of cerebral activity. 

* ' Representation ' is used by Dr Geley in the strictly philosophical 
sense ; " the energy of the naind in holding up to contemplation what 
it is determined to represent." — Sir William Hamilton, Metaphysics, xxiv. 
— [Translator's note.] 



It would seem that the recent influx of ideas on the 
Subconscious should have disconcerted the classical 

Nevertheless many attempts have been made to 
reconcile the new facts with the old theories. 

Most are based on very conscientious work, but 
none has attained its object. We shall examine each 
in turn and endeavour to show wherein they are insuffi- 
cient and inadmissible. 

Classical theories of the subconscious may be placed 
in two categories: the physiological and the purely 

Physiological Theories, 

There are two physiological theories: the theory 
of Automatism and the theory of Morbidity. 


For the tentative interpretation of the subconscious, 
the first hypothesis was that of psychological automatism, 
following naturally on that of physiological automatism. 
In each case what is observed is held to be merely a 
passive manifestation ; and unconscious psychism, accor- 
ding to this, is simply a result of the automatic activity 
of the brain — unconscious cerebration. 

To support this theory P. Janet specially studied 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

certain pathological conditions, such as minor epilepsy, 
elementary symptoms of hysteria, hypnosis, somnam- 
bulism, and mediumship. 

The psychological automatism in these cases was 
beyond doubt, and to generalise from these data, extend- 
ing automatism to the whole area of subconsciousness, 
was but one step. It was soon taken. 

But when, leaving the lower and commonplace 
order of phenomena, higher subconscious manifestations 
had to be examined, insurmountable difficulties arose. 

The physiological automatism with which psychic 
automatism was compared, is of two kinds — ^innate and 

Innate automatism is shown by the activity of the 
main organic functions such as circulation of the blood, 
or digestion. This is the same from birth to death, if 
not quantitatively at least qualitatively. It always 
remains within the limits proper to these functions and 
initiates nothing new. Besides the fact that this auto- 
matic dynamism is, as we have seen, unexplained, it 
is clear that it cannot help us to understand a subconscious 
psychism that innovates and creates. 

Acquired automatism is the result of complicated 
interactions, — certain modes of activity, needing at first 
attention and continued exercise of the will, come by 
habit to be performed without continuous attention, 
and with a minimum of effort. 

This acquired automatism also remains within the 
limits prescribed by habit, and does not go beyond 
them. But the higher subconscious manifestations are 
usually sporadic, and in no case do they resemble habits. 

This is obvious in the case of supernormal manifesta- 
tions; these can never become customary. Even for 
the less mysterious phenomena, automatism is no 

Multiple personalities brought to light in certain 
individuals show spontaneity and self-directing will, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

They do not act according to some autonomous habit, 
but take an original direction. The will manifested is 
not only sharply defined; it also differs from that of the 
subject, and may be opposed or even hostile to it, as 
in the case of Miss Beauchamp, studied by Dr Morton 

In mediumship, this spontaneity, will, and autonomy 
of the so-called secondary personalities appear still more 
remarkably; they sometimes show a quite complete 
psychism of their own, with their own faculties of willing, 
knowing, and reasoning; with acquirements often very 
different from those of the conscious subject, such, for 
instance, as the knowledge of a language unknown to 
the latter. In the more notable cases, there would seem 
to be really nothing in common between the two person- 
alities. How can the term * automatism ' be applied 
to these facts } 

Let us now pass to subconscious productions of an 
artistic, philosophic, or scientific order. Only defective 
reasoning can attribute inspiration and genius to cerebral 

Let us analyse what happens in these subconscious 

To take a typical case, a man of science, an artist, 
or a thinker undertakes a certain work. Confronted 
with some unexpected difficulties, he is discouraged, and 
stops. To his surprise, some time later, the solution 
which he had vainly sought comes to him without effort, 
and the work he had planned is easily completed. 

This, it is said, is because the brain has continued 
to work automatically in the direction of the original 
impulse; but it is impossible to find in physiology an 
analogous example of automatic function. 

When, for instance, one learns to ride a bicycle, a 
long series of voluntary efforts have to be repeated to 
reach the stage of automatic direction. If the learner 

^ Dr Morton Prince : The Dissociation of a Personality. 

"From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

were to break off discouraged, no amount of waiting 
would find him more advanced for a second attempt. 
In the interval there would have been no * latent 
physiological work ' allowing a cessation of the effort 
necessary for learning, and standing in lieu of that 

Again, when in training, a man habituates not only 
his muscles, but his lungs and heart to endure the 
fatigue of running; a single effort can never take the 
place of methodical and continued training. When, 
then, * latent work by the brain ' is alleged, that is a 
mere guess contrary to all that physiology teaches; it 
is a hypothesis which involves an entirely new and 
purely gratuitous notion ; that the cerebral organ 
works in a manner essentially different from all other 

Let us now take another case: — 

The artist, thinker, etc. . . . does not foresee the 
work he means to do, and does not prepare it. He 
produces under the influence of an * inspiration * inde- 
pendent of his desire and will, sometimes contrary to 
them. There is not in this case the original impulse 
for the supposed automatism. Here he does not 
direct the inspiration, he is directed by it. How, then, 
can we speak of psychological automatism.? 

* The unconscious sequence here,* says M. Dwel- 
shauvers, * is not an automatism but a vital action.' 

M. Ribot also says, * Inspiration reveals a power 
superior to the conscious individual, strange to him 
though acting through him — a state which many 
inventors have described by saying of their work — I 
had no part in it.' 

M. Dwelshauvers, in his recent study of sub- 
conscious production, has abundantly shown that above 
the psychological automatism (which is but a common- 
place and inferior form of the Unconscious), there is an 
active latent unconsciousness which * serves as an arsenal 


From the "Unconscious to the Conscious 

for creative synthesis and aids a man in producing his 
most perfect mental work.* 

What are we to conclude ? Simply that the theory 
of psychological automatism is applicable only to a small 
number of the less important facts and cannot claim to 
furnish any general explanation. 

P. Janet finds himself obliged to admit this, and he 
admits it reluctantly and ungraciously when he writes 
as follows. 

* Since the time when I used this word ** subcon- 
scious " in a clinical and commonplace sense, other 
authors have used the word in a very much higher 

* This word has been used to designate marvellous 
activities which exist, so it would seem, within 
ourselves without our suspecting their presence; it 
has been used to expldn sudden enthusiasms and the 
divinations of genius. ... I shall not venture to 
discuss theories so consoling, which may perhaps 
be true.* 

* I shall limit myself to the observation that I 
am busied with quite other things. The poor sick 
folk that I was studying had no kind of genius; 
the phenomena which in them had become sub- 
conscious, were very simple matters which are part 
of the consciousness of other men without giving 
any cause for surprise. They had lost personal 
consciousness and the power of self-direction ; they 
had sick personalities — that is all.*^ 

This, in fine, is all that is covered by automatic 
subconsciousness properly so called. The higher active 
subconsciousness, being entirely different in essence 
and nature, must be clearly distinguished from the 

* p. Janet, Preface to J. Jastrow's St^conscienc$. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 


Another general explanation which, although still 
less logical and more vain and arbitrary than the first, 
has had, and still has much currency, is the explanation 
by morbidity.^ 

One hesitates to avow it, but it is this poverty-stricken 
explanation to which the majority of psychologists 
to-day are not afraid to appeal. According to them 
everything which, from the psychological point of view, 
departs from the average, must proceed from disease. 
They would have subconscious powers to be morbid 
products; hypnotism, akin to neurosis; multiple per- 
sonality, a pathological disintegration of the Self; 
supernormal phenomena, symptoms of hysteria; and 
as for the works of genius, they are simply results of 

At the base of all these morbid manifestations they 
always discover an essential pathological cause — * degen- 
eration.* This factor of * degeneration ' is the more 
convenient in that it is elastic ; it is supposed to rule both 
ordinary and hysteriform neuropathic cases inferior 
degeneration), and the manifestations of genius (superior 

Thus everything that from the intellectual point 
of view is either above or below the normal, must be 
the result of disease. 

The label * morbid * is affixed with more or 
less discretion or indiscretion by different schools of 
psychiatry; 2 but its use is nearly general. 

Dr Chabaneix speaks of auto-intoxication and over- 
pressure among the predisposed : * The more an organ 
works,* he writes, * the more it develops, and at the 

* The chief psychological review in France is entitled : Revue de 
Psychologic NormcUe et Pathologique. 

'Mental therapeutics; treatment of insanity. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

same time, the more liable it becomes to disease. One 
of the diseases of the brain is automatism, or the appear- 
ance of the subconscious. And this subconsciousness, 
instead of being a trouble to the mind, is often a ferment 
of creation, when it is not itself creation.* 

A curious disease, which, instead of being a cause 
of * trouble * and of diminution to the individual, 
increases his capacities and powers! 

Lombroso, for his part, boldly invokes madness. 

Others define differently, they reduce talent and 
genius to arthritism. But the record in this respect is 
held up to the present by Dr Pascal Serph.* He takes 
no half-measures and has the courage of his opinions. 
According to him the origin of genius is looked for 
much too far away — genius is purely and simply the 
product of . . . hereditary syphilis! 

* If syphilis,* Dr Serph gravely concludes, * does the 
harm which medical men are unanimous in recognising 
and fearing for mankind, it nevertheless gives, as a set-off, 
by its hypertrophic action on the brain, the possibility 
of perfecting human action, and being thus creative 
of the special ideas of genius, it compensates to some 
extent for its ravages.* 

It is scarcely possible to restrain some impatience 
when men of science maintain such theories, and one 
feels a certain disgust at having to refute ideas which 
deserve only contempt. 

It is, however, necessary to do this. 

Let us remark, in the first place, that among the 
various morbid factors invoked, one only — neuropathy 
— seems to be coincident with facts, if not supported 
by them. 

It is true that men of great talent or genius are 
almost invariably neuropathic. But what is neuro- 
pathy } 

Medical science does not know. Neuroses, and 

* Gazette Medicate de Paris, July 12, 1916. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

even madness are pure enigmas from the point of view 
of pathological anatomy. 

We shall see that, far from explaining the mechanism 
of abnormal or superior psychism, neuroses receive 
their explanation from the deeper study of the essential 
nature of the subconscious. 

But this is not all, even if we suppose the theories of 
morbidity justified, they in no way solve the problems 
which the manifestations of subconsciousness set before 
us. To say ' genius is neurosis or madness ' does not 
help us to understand the mechanism of the works of 
genius. The great thinker, artist, or man of science, 
brings something new to humanity; he creates. You 
say — he is mad I So be it, but how is madness creative } 
Until you have laid before our eyes the mechanism of 
the subconscious psychism, you have only put the 
difficulty one step back by affixing the epithet * morbid ' 
to it. 

To say that secondary personalities are only products 
of the disintegration of the Self, is not to make them 
comprehensible, rather the contrary. The disintegration 
of a psychic entity may give the key to alterations of 
personality, but only to those alterations which diminish 
the personality. 

This diminution of personality is evident in certain 
cases of amnesia^ following on cranial wounds, on 
great emotions, severe infection, epilepsy, etc. 

Diminished personality appears also in the psycho- 
logic automatism described by P. Janet. But in the 
cases of complete and autonomous secondary personalities 
it is not observable. When these secondary personalities 
occupy the whole psychic field of the subject, when they 
show a very original will, and give proof of powers and 
knowledge different from those of the patient and some- 
times much above those which he normally possesses, 
one can no longer invoke the disintegration of the Self 

* Loss of memory. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

as a complete explanation. It is impossible to admit that 
the secondary personality, the fraction of the Self, 
should be as extensive, or even more extensive than the 
total Self. The part is never equal to or greater than 
the whole. 

Psychological disintegration must therefore be given 
up as a general explanation of modifications or the 

It is not by saying that such and such a medium is 
hysterical that we can understand the action at a distance 
of her motor faculties and her intelligence, apart from 
her muscles, her senses and her brain; or can acquire 
the key to the difficult problem of supernormal psycho- 
physiology involving tKe faculties of thought-reading, 
lucidity, and ideoplastic or teleplastic action. 

There is this final argument against the theory of 
morbidity — it is contrary to the logic of facts. It is 
contrary to the whole teachings of physiology to 
declare that a diseased organ can produce results 
superior to those of a healthy one, especially when 
those results occur in a constant and semi-regular 

There is an untenable contradiction in declaring 
physical power a function of health, and the mental 
power of genius a function of disease. 

Is it now necessary to speak of other less general 
theories of morbidity, restricted to one or another group 
of subconscious phenomena .? It will suffice briefly to 
indicate them. 

Azam explained the duplication of personality by 
the separate action of the two cerebral lobes; a thesis 
which, since the manifestation of multiple, and not 
merely double, personalities in the same individual, has 
only a historic interest. 

Dr SoUier explains hysteria by disjunctions among 
the cerebral cells; all the symptoms of the neurosis 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

being explained by the non-activity or the hyper-acti^dty 
of certain among these neurons. 

Professor Grasset thinks to explain subconscious 
manifestations by a disjunction between the functioning 
of Charcot's schematic * polygon ' and a certain centre 
O, localised somewhere in the gray matter of the brain. 

To all these theories the same objections can be 
raised : — 

1. They are adapted only to a few facts, leaving out 

of account the very thing which is most impor- 
■ tant in subconsciousness — the higher crypto- 
psychism, and the supernormal. 

2. Even for the limited facts which they cover they 

are insufficient, since they assign as cause the 
very thing which has to be explained — the why, 
and how, of these disjunctions. 
Leaving the physiological, we will now pass on to 
the psychological theories of the subconscious. 


These theories are many and of unequal value. 
There are some which start from vicious reasoning, they 
are petitiones principii^ or verbal explanations. We will 
discuss them briefly. 


Apetitioprincipii consists in carrying back a mysterious 
occurrence to another not less mysterious, but previously 
known and more familiar. Among supernormal phenom- 
ena for instance, telepathy and thought-reading are the 
most familiar and the best known, which gives them a 
kind of priority of privilege, so that it is sought, by any 
and every means, to reduce all intellectual mediumship 
to them; which is absurd, and only complicates the 
whole subject, for thought-reading and telepathy are 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

as contrary to known laws as are clairvoyance or trans- 
cendental mediumistic communications. 

Professor Pouchet^ writes as racily as he does 
logically when he says: — 

* To demonstrate that a brain by some kind of 
gravitation acts at a distance on another brain like 
a magnet on iron, the sun on the planets, or the 
. earth on a falling body! To arrive at the discovery 
of an influence, a nervous vibration propelling itself 
without any material conductor! The amazing 
thing is that those who believe, more or less, in 
something of the sort, seem, poor fellows! not 
even to suspect the importance and the interest of 
the novelty which is involved, and what a revolution 
this would be for the social world. Prove that, my 
good people, and your names will stand higher than 
that of Newton; and I can assure you that the 
Berthelots and the Pasteurs will take off their hats 
to you! * 

A still more familiar begging of the question consists 
in explaining hypnotism by hysteria, or hysteria by 
hypnotism. * What is there astonishing in manifes- 
tations under hypnotism } Analogous and spontaneous 
occurrences are known in hysteria! Why marvel at 
hysterical manifestations ? Similar manifestations can 
be brought about by hypnosis.* 

Then yet another step is taken in the way of begging 
the question, when both hysteria and hypnotism are 
referred to suggestibility or to Professor Babinsky's 
* Pythiatism.* 

But suggestion, a usual and convenient factor in 
hypnosis or hysteria, is absolutely valueless and of no 
import, as a philosophic explanation. ^ 

We have demonstrated as much in L Etre Sub- 

^ Quoted by M. de Rochas : ExUriorisation de la MotriciU. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

M. Boirac has also established the same thing. He 
writes : — 

* What conclusion can we draw from the whole 
discussion ? To begin with, the method which 
consists in explaining concrete facts by abstract 
terms, such as ** suggestion " and " suggestibility," 
appears to us highly unscientific; it is a relic of the 
old scholastic method — a recourse to occult entities, 
qualities, and virtues. In a certain patient I can 
induce at will the most unlikely hallucinations; I 
can paralyse his organs as I please. What can be 
the cause of such extraordinary effects } Nothing 
simpler; it is suggestion. But how is this suggestion 
to be explained } Whence comes its power ? That 
is still simpler; it comes from suggestibility, a 
natural property of the human brain. So they think 
to explain facts by dressing them up in a name, just 
as the schoolmen thought they were explaining the 
sleep produced by opium by saying that opium has 
a dormitive virtue.' ^ 

M. Boirac's reasoning may be applied to all the 
classical explanations of subconscious phenomena, both 
metapsychic and supernormal. 

Equally valueless are the explanations which may be 
called purely verbal, which abound in the classical 
psychology of the Subconscious. 



Psychologists are prone to have recourse to artificial 
disjunctions among the subconscious capacities. Their 
efforts are directed to classifying and then labelling the 

* Boirac : L'Avenir des Sciences Psychiques. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

facts they have classed. They thus give themselves 
the illusion of understanding them. 

Among the facts of subconsciousness there are some' 
quite familiar and well known — the facts of inspiration, 
so these are made into a class apart, the active sub- 
consciousness^ opposed to the automatic subconsciousness 
spoken of by P. Janet. But the classification goes 
neither higher nor further ; this main class is sub-divided 
into secondary classes — unconscious invention; uncon- 
scious memory; unconscious tendencies; unconscious 
association of ideas; unconscious emotional states; 
religious unconsciousness, etc. . . . 

The main class of multiple personalities is divided 
into sub-classes, labelled infra-consciousness, super- 
consciousness, co-consciousness, etc., etc. 

In the same order of ideas eminent psychologists 
distinguish subconscious psychism properly so called 
from what they term * metapsychism,' between which 
there are, however, only analogies, and no essential 

The normal subconsciousness and the metaphysic 
subconsciousness are manifested in very closely allied 
states : — 

The state of ecstasy, of rapture, of absent-mindedness, 
in a poet, an artist, or a philosopher composing under 
the influence of inspiration, is, at bottom, identical 
with the secondary state of the medium. Let it not 
be said that the medium speaks, acts, and writes quite 
automatically, whilst the artist, even when his conscious 
will does not intervene, nevertheless knows what he is 
producing. This distinction does not always obtain. 
Many mediums know quite well what is about to be 
given through them; just as the artist knows bit by 
Sit what he will produce under an inspiration of which 
he is neither the master nor the guide. 

Rousseau covering pages of writing without reflec- 
tion or effort, in a state of rapture which drew tears, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Musset listening to the mysterious * genius ' who dic- 
tated his verses, Socrates listening to his daemon, 
Schopenhauer refusing to believe that his unexpected 
and unsought postulates were his own work, all behaved 
exactly like mediums. 

Moreover, it is not infrequent that mediumship 
co-exists with manifestations of artistic inspiration. 
Musset, for instance, was a sensitive and almost a 

It is needless to remark that cryptomnesia and crypto- 
psychism are the foundation both of mediumship and 
of normal subconscious psychism. In fact it is not 
always easy to distinguish one from the other. Will it 
be said that the distinction between subconscious psychism 
properly so called, lies in the appearance of the super- 
normal element ? 

But where does the supernormal begin ? The empti- 
ness and futility of this term * supernormal ' has been 
shown in the chapter on physiology. It was there 
demonstrated that normal and so-called supernormal 
physiology are equally mysterious and involve one and 
the same problem. The case is the same for psychology. 
The subconscious, as a whole, is incomprehensible by 
classical psychology. 

All that classical psychology has been able to do 
with the supernormal is to multiply the number of labels. 
The more numerous the labels the greater the illusion 
of understanding. We shall then have exteriorisation 
or sensation, exteriorisation or motor power, exteriorisa- 
tion of intelligence, telesthesia, telepathy, telekinesis, 
teleoplasticity, ideoplasticity, etc., etc. 

M. Boirac, finding this nomenclature still too 
poor, proposes to add hypnology, psychodynamics, 
telepsychism, hyloscopy, metagnomy, biactinism, dia- 
psychism, etc.^ 

These classifications, indeed, answer to an innate 

i Boirac : La Psychologic Inconnue and L'Avenir des Etudes Psychiques. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

need of the human mind, and in one sense are legitimate. 
But their danger lies in the fact that they come to mean 
something more than classifications, they come to mean 
a quite illusory interpretation; they turn aside the 
logical endeavour to understand and reason, or put it 
to sleep. They have yet another danger, they mask 
the essential unity of psychological synthesis, and lead 
to the notion that the diverse subconscious manifesta- 
tions may be susceptible of isolated and partial explana- 
tion. Thus they mislead the investigator and retard all 
philosophical progress. 

The question of the Subconscious is passing through 
the stage which all important questions of scientific 
philosophy have passed through. Sooner or later the 
common link between all questions of the same order 
is found, and then a harmonious synthesis is con- 
structed, which is capable of explaining, if not all the 
minor difficulties of detail (which will finally be resolved 
little by little under the direction and control of the 
general idea), at any rate all the major difficulties. But 
before reaching the synthetic phase, the human mind 
struggles painfully through a long analytical phase, 
during which it only observes facts and classifies them 
more or less skilfully. 

Nevertheless, from the beginning of this phase it 
endeavours to find explanations, but these are based 
on a small number of facts specially studied by this or 
that investigator, and hastily generalised upon by him 
by the help of an arbitrary and forced adaptation to other 
groups of analogous facts. 

Then one of two things happens. 

Either these hasty and superficial theories are also 
vague and inexact, and end in an insidious and deceptive 
verbalism; or they are exact but cover only a small 
number of facts, and cannot stand the test of general 

Theories of these two categories are already 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

numerous in the domain of the philosophy of the sub- 

We have already cited the partial theories of Janet, 
of Grasset, and of Sollier, 

Two more may be cited, both of a general character, 
but still insufficient. 


The vague, inexact, and merely verbal type of theory 
is represented by that of Professor Jastrow. The con- 
clusion of his long study on Subconsciousness is as 
follows: — ^ 

* The impression left on us by this study is 
that the mental life of Man does not rest on his 
consciousness alone. Below consciousness there 
exists a psychic organisation anterior to it^ which is 
doubtless the source whence it has been derived. 

* It is to be presumed that the origin of con- 
sciousness is due to the necessity of satisfying some 
need which otherwise would not have been com- 
pletely satisfied. 

* Its birth marks the beginning of a greatei 
co-ordination of functions. Its duty consists primarily 
in integrating experiences, and thus establishing 
the unity of the mind. Morbid dissociations^ only 
bring into higher relief that unity which the normal 
mind retains during its whole development, by 
which it resists all the vicissitudes through which it 

* We have explained the different psychic 
phenomena by the light of evolutionist concepts. 
. . . The interpretation of the different varieties of 

* J. Jastrow: La Subconscience (Alcan). 'My italics, G. G. 

117 K 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

subconscious activities'^ ought to be considered as 
pertaining to a system founded on mental evolution. 
Subconsciousness should appear as a natural pro- 
duct of mental constitution. It should also be 
shown that in proportion as the complexity of the 
mind increases, the subconsciousness is modified 
so as to continue to fill the function which it holds 
in that mind. But all evolution implies arrest, 
weakening, decadence, and dissolution; and in 
examining the products of the dissolution of a 
function we often come to understand its normal 
development better; and it is for this reason that 
we have in this work studied the alterations of the 
mind with so much care.* 

This theory of Dr Jastrow's, if it explains nothing, 
at least gives a very clear idea of the state of mind of 
contemporary psychologists. It appeals to differentia- 
tions which are not essential differences, to impotent 
and vain * morbid factors,' and to a mere verbalism 
still more impotent. Finally it is absolutely and system- 
atically inexact. It seems from time to time to have a. 
glimpse of a part of the truth, but is incapable of rising 
to a free flight above the classical routine and the medley 
of commonplaces. It sheds absolutely no light on the 
nature, the origin, or the essence of subconsciousness. 
It in no way explains how the subconsciousness, together 
with a far-reaching cryptomnesia, can contain so many 
marvellous and powerful faculties, so much unexpected 
knowledge, latent, unused, unusable, and necessitating 
a morbid disintegration of the Self in order to be 
apparent 1 


There is a recent theory which may be considered 
as the last word in the classical concept of the 

» My italics, G. G. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

subconscious; it is by M. Ribot.^ M. Ribot finds it 
quite simple: there is no unconscious Self. 

* This term and the concept which it implies, 
are an abuse of language, and inadmissible. The 
Self, the person, is a whole, composed of constantly 
varying elements, which in their perpetual ** becom- 
ing " preserve a certain unity. But nothing similar 
is found in this imaginary Self, no principle of unity, 
but on the contrary a tendency to disperse and to go 
to pieces. . . . 

' To sum up, this supposed Self is a fraction, 
made up of motor elements and mechanisms. When 
it becomes active, it is an orchestra without a con- 

* Unconscious function does not differ from 
conscious activity except by the want of order and 
unity. Its structure is made up of " psychic 
residues," that is to say, of " isolated or associated 
elements which were once states of consciousness 
... it is extinct consciousness, frozen and crystal- 
lised as to its motor elements.' 

Nevertheless, M. Ribot admits there is in the 
unconscious * some impenetrable basal matter.* 

* This fact — however it may be explained — that 
there is in us a buried life which appears only by 
glimpses and never in its entirety, is far-reaching; 
the fact is that this self-knowledge (yvuOi. ffeavrdv) 
is not merely difficult, but impossible. We must 
recognise our ** absolute incapacity to know with 
any certainty our own individuality in its entirety.'* * 

In fine, according to M. Ribot, the conscious Self is 
a co-ordination of states; and the unconscious Self is 

* Ribot : La Vie Inconsciente et les Mouvements. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

a residue of former states of consciousness. The activity 
of the former reveals a certain unity, while that of the 
latter is entirely anarchic and disordered. No doubt, 
he admits, there are obscurities, but these cannot be 
helped; what we do not understand in psychic individu- 
ality is only that which it is impossible to understand. 
We can take note of this avowal of impotence. As 
to M. Ribot's actual theory, its insufficiency puts it 
beyond discussion. The data on which it rests take 
no account of what we may, with M. Dwelshauvers, 
call the latent active subconsciousness, nor of the 
supernormal. It has, therefore, no claim to be considered 
a general theory. 



Such are the classical explanations of subconscious 

The entire and flagrant insufficiency of these explana- 
tions is obvious. The classical concept of physiological 
and psychological individuality appears on examination 
yet more limited and deficient than the classical concept 
of evolution. 

The latter has, at all events, succeeded in bringing 
to light the secondary factors; and if mistaken as to 
their import, if it has not been able completely to explain 
transformism, it has, at any rate, placed its reality 
beyond question. The former, on the contrary, has not 
succeeded in solving any one of the problems which it 

Shut in by the narrow limits of polyzoism and poly- 
psychism, which hide from it the essential reality of 
things, it is faced by riddles on all sides; the riddle of 
the formation and the maintenance of the organism, 
the riddle of Life, the. riddle of personality, the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

riddle of consciousness, and the riddle of sub- 

Incapable of a synthetic outlook, its analyses have 
resulted in the factitious generalisations of a sterile 
method, which only escape from insufficiency to fall into 
absurdity. The classical concept of the individual carries 
on it the brand of lamentable impotence in what we 
may call the contemporary official academic psycho- 

Devoid of originality, depth, and truth, this official 
psycho-physiology presents a striking contrast to the 
other sciences which form a part of the marvellous 
developments of our age. 

Deprived of their light, it makes as it were a dark 
zone in which the best minds blindly grope and 
struggle in vain. ... It is time that a strong wind of 
pure air should blow away the thick and heavy fog of 
petty ideas linked to petty facts. 



Our study of classical psycho-physiology has enabled 
us to probe to the quick the errors and illusions due to 
the ascending method which, starting from elementary 
facts, claims to interpret complex ones. 

Let us now boldly use the opposite, descending 
method; and consider first and foremost the most 
complex facts of psychology ; i.e. the subconscious 

This method will give in the psychic domain the 
results it has given in the physiological; a new and 
brilliant light on our path, making our investigations 
simple, easy, and fruitful. 



Starting without preconceived ideas, and proceeding 
to the study of subconscious psychology without heed 
to the formulae and dogmas of classical teaching, we 
experience a great surprise. 

The subconscious appears as the very essence of 
individual psychology. 

That which is most important in the individual 
psychism is subconscious. The foundation of the Self, 
Its characteristic qualities, are subconscious. All the 
innate capacities are subconscious; likewise the higher 
faculties — intuition, talents, genius, artistic or creative 
inspiration. These faculties are cryptoid in their origin, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

cryptoid in their manifestations, the greater part of 
which escape from the will, from the normal and regular 
direction of the individual, and show their existence only 
by bringing to light intermittent and apparently spon- 
taneous results. 

This subconscious psychic activity, powerful in 
itself, is reinforced by a still more potent and infallible 
memory which leaves the feeble and limited conscious 
memory far behind. 

By the side of the subconscious, the conscious 
seems but a restricted, limited, and truncated psychism; 
and even this psychism in its more important manifesta- 
tions is conditioned by that cryptoid portion of the Self 
which is its foundation. 

In a word, everything happens as though the 
conscious were but a part, and that the smaller part, 
of the Self; a part, moreover, entirely conditioned by 
the more important part which remains cryptoid in the 
ordinary circumstances of normal life. 

Such a declaration is an insoluble mystery for the 
classical psychology which considers the Self to be the 
sum of the consciousness of its neurons. Starting from 
that concept it is impossible to understand either crypto- 
psychism or cryptomnesia, or even to attempt any but 
purely verbal explanations of them. 



From the point of view of individualist psychology 
cryptopsychism appears nonsense. How can a part of 
the mental activity escape from the control of the 
individual or be accessible to him only irregularly and 
fortuitously ? How can this involuntary and latent 
mental activity be superior to that which is voluntary 
and conscious } How can all the higher powers, not 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

only the supernormal faculties, but also creative inspira- 
tion, genius, and all that is essential in the intellect from 
the psychic point of view, be for the most part inaccessible 
and unknown ? Why, in a word, are they subconscious 
and not conscious ? Once more this is impossible to 
understand from the data of classical psychology. 

Basing his reasoning on these arguments, Myers had 
no difficulty in demonstrating the impossibility of making 
cryptopsychism a product of normal physiological evolu- 
tion. There is, in fact, an absolute contradiction in 
establishing the existence of faculties at once very 
powerful and very useful, but at the same time mostly 
unusable in the normal life of the individual. 

Let us now pass to cryptomnesia. 

This, as we have seen, seems to have an immense 
power, a reach which seems limitless. It seems to 
register faithfully everything which has come under our 
senses, whether consciously or unknown to us, and to 
»-egister indelibly. 

Such a concept differs in toto from all the classical 
concepts of memory. 

The ordinary memory is most precise when the fact 
has forcibly arrested the attention and is also recent. 

If the fact registered by the memory is of little or 
no importance to the individual, it soon disappears for 
ever, unless it should chance to be retained by reason of 
an association with more important ideas. Similarly if 
the fact registered is distant in time, remembrance 
becomes vague, and in the end disappears, often entirely. 
This is a regular and normal sequence conformable to 
all that physiology teaches. 

The impression produced on the brain is superficial 
and ephemeral for states of consciousness of moderate 
intensity, and even for more important states this 
impression tends to disappear in time. Le Dantec* 
thus sums up his psychological theory of memory. 

* Le Daxktec : Le Diterminisme Biologique. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

* There are two things to consider in memory 
from the objective point of view : — 

* I. The fact that we have not really forgotten 

anything which it is possible for us to recall. 

* 2. The operation in which this recollection 


* The former is a histological ^ peculiarity, the 
latter is the correlative of a physiological fact. 

* If we execute any operation, mental or other, 
a certain number of times, the path traversed by the 
corresponding reflex will be beaten into a thorough- 
fare by that reflex in accordance with the law of 
functional assimilation. In our nervous system, 
therefore, there will be a certain number of histo- 
logical modifications correlative to the operation in 
question. As long as these histological modifications 
persist, the histological memory of the operation 
will persist; it will suffice to repeat it from time 
to time to maintain this histological memory by 
functional assimilation. If a long time passes 
without repetition, the plastic destruction which 
accompanies the repose of an organ will destroy 
this particular path in the nervous system; there 
will be forgetfulness. 

* When the forgetfulness is complete and absolute 
it is irremediable. The histological memory having 
vanished, no psychological memory can remain. 
This seems obvious, and seems to be, in fact, the 
sequence and the condition of the ordinary memory.* 

Now cryptomnesia is entirely different; it retains 
not only important facts but unimportant ones, even 
those which have not claimed the conscious attention of 
the person. 

Further, the registration of states of consciousness 

•Histological, Gr. isT6j= tissue, pertaining to the tissue (of the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

by the occult memory is not affected by the lapse of 
time. The registration seems indelible. 

The range of latent memories extends from the most 
insignificant details, even those unconsciously registered, 
to the most important facts of conscious life. The 
remembrance, even when it seems to have wholly 
vanished, and is inaccessible to the normal self, can 
reappear in its entirety as the foreground of abnormal 
states, especially in somnambulism or mediumship. 

Cryptomnesia records not only external experiences 
but internal ones also. It retains not only real impressions 
but also those of an imaginative order. Imagination, 
which plays so large a part in normal psychism, creates 
and realises fictitious positions, and these, as well as 
real facts, are registered by cryptomnesia. Similarly, 
of course, all the emotions and states of the soul. 

In fine, everything which has occupied the psychic 
field, consciously or unconsciously, remains indestructibly 
even when it seems for ever lost. No matter whether a 
very long time has elapsed since the sensorial or psychic 
impression was made, no matter that the cerebral cells, 
which vibrated synchronously, have doubtless since then 
been many times renewed,^ in despite of time and 
change the remembrance remains integrally and indelibly 
graven in the Subconscious. 

How } Why } To classical physiology the mystery 
is insoluble. 

The entire subconscious memory seems, therefore, 
to be independent of cerebral contingencies. Cases have 
even been quoted in which it has reappeared by flashes, 
in spite of the loss of normal memory through injuries 
to the brain. Such is the case of Mr Hanna, a very 
characteristic one in this respect." Mr Hanna, by reason 
of a fall on his head, forgot entirely the whole of his 

* In any case the impression made on them has been effaced and 
has disappeared. 

» Sidy and Goodhart : Multiple Personality. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

past life, all his knowledge and all his acquirements, and 
returned* to the psychological state of a new-born babe 
who has everything to learn. But curiously enough, 
though the memory had disappeared, the capacity to 
learn was intact. Now during this process of re- 
education, M. Flournoy records, * he had dreams and 
visions, incomprehensible to himself, which he described 
with astonishment to his relations, and in which they 
recognised very exact recollections of places where the 
patient had been before his accident.* There was, 
therefore, a latent memory, also clearly shown by his 
power of very rapid learning. 

In fine, the study of cryptomnesia clearly brings out 
that everything happens as though the psychic state 
which we call a remembrance, registered by the cerebral 
cells, — ephemeral as they and destined soon to disappear 
with them, — were at the same time registered in * a 
something ' permanent, of which this remembrance 
will henceforward be an integral and permanent part. 

Let us clearly retain this conclusion; its importance 
will appear later. It will suffice at present to establish 
a first inference from the facts. 

There are in the living being powerful and extended 
but subconscious faculties which, although cryptoid and 
not in the main within the consciousness nor under the 
normal and direct control of the will, yet condition the 
individual psychism. 

There is a subconscious memory different from the 
normal memory, more certain and more extensive than 
it and seeming almost illimitable. 

These facts take us far beyond the limits of classical 
notions on the Self, its origin, its end, and its destinies. 
There is nothing in the academic knowledge which we 
have thought definitely established by the natural 
sciences, by physiology or psychology, that can account 
for subconscious phenomena, or which is not in flagrant 
opposition to them. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

In a word, this truly far-reaching induction puts a 
question more far-reaching still. We are imperatively 
led to ask ourselves whether the whole classical psycho- 
physiology is not a mere monument of errors ? 

From this point forward it becomes a duty to 
reconsider all its teaching, and above all to examine by 
the light of facts the main dogma on which the whole 
structure is founded, the dogma of psycho-physiological 

It is important to investigate this parallelism wherever 
it is affirmed to exist, and verify whether it can be 
adapted to the subconscious facts. 


To begin with, we are taught that psychic develop- 
ment accompanies quite regularly the development of 
the brain, and is proportional to that development 
during childhood and up to maturity. 

But subconscious psychism has, among its other 
characteristics, that of appearing, often in all its 
force, long before the complete development of the 

Without here speaking of the supernormal sub- 
consciousness, which is more frequent in children than 
in adults, the precocious manifestation of genius, 
especially in art, is a commonplace, and it is needles? 
to cite instances of what is so well known. This emer- 
gence of genius in advance of the complete development 
of the brain is one fact at issue with the theory of psych > 
physiological parallelism. Another point, still more 
important, is that psychic development, as far as it 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

concerns the subconscious, appears to be independent 
of hereditary conditions, independent also of sensory- 
acquirement, and of the effort necessary for conscious 
intellectual acquirement. 

Whence, indeed, do the subconscious powers come ? 
These powers, manifest as talent, genius, or inspiration, 
are not acquired, they are innate. Work, enthusiasm, 
or repeated effort, may, to some degree, develop them; 
it cannot create them. 

How can we comprehend these innate powers ? 
The failure of all attempts at interpretation, whether by 
heredity or cerebral conformation is now definite. 

The examples adduced of well and clearly established 
psychic heredity are quite exceptional. 

The best known is that of the family of John 
Sebastian Bach, which, between 1550 and 1846, pro- 
duced twenty-nine eminent musicians. But is this 
entirely due to heredity ? To be sure of this, the other 
factors — surrounding influences, education, family tradi- 
tions, collective enthusiasm, and so forth, should be 

What is extraordinary is not that here and there 
we should find cases of seeming psychic heredity, but 
rather that, having regard to the frequency and triteness 
of physical inheritance, we meet with so few. The fact is 
that the function of heredity is as indistinct and secondary 
in psychology as it is important and predominant 
in physiology. Certain predispositions, especially the 
artistic, are sometimes hereditary, but, as is well known, 
high psychic faculties — talent and genius — are not 
traceable to ancestry oftener than they are transmitted 
to posterity. 

The differences between physical and psychical 
inheritance are too distinctive to be referred to physio- 
logical causes. How can we explain why two brothers 
may resemble each other outwardly, and morally have 
nothing in common } 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

The very marked psychic inequalities between 
persons of the same parentage and of similar life and 
education, are in no way correlative to their physical 

Physiologists, indeed, no longer seek the cause of 
these psychic inequalities in the weight, size, or con- 
formation of the brain; they invoke imperceptible and 
inappreciable variations in the cerebral tissue, unper- 
ceived causes, diverse influences (pathological or other) 
during intra-uterine life, unknown conditions of con- 
ception, genealogical combinations, etc. ... all of 
them hypotheses without even the beginnings of proof. 

To sum up: from the fact that it is inborn and not 
hereditary, the subconscious appears to be as indepen- 
dent of the anatomical organisation of the brain as it is 
of intellectual acquirements and the efforts these require. 

From the fact that it often appears from infancy, 
it seems independent of the complete development of 
the brain. 

Here, then, is one point established. There is no 
psycho-physiological parallelism between the appearance 
or the development of the subconscious, and the indi- 
\ndual development of the nerve-centres. 


* Psychic activity,* we are next taught, * is pro- 
portional to the activity of the nerve-centres.' 

There the reasoning is simple and clear. If there is 
one axiom which physiology cannot deny without 
stultifying itself, it is that * the output of an organ of 
given power is proportional to the degree of its activity.* 
The analytical study of conscious psychism, taking the 
seeming psycho-physiological parallelism as its basal 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

fact, was led to the conclusion that the Self is a 
function of the brain, or, at least, cannot exist apart 
from it. 

* We can no more,' writes Haeckel, * separate our 
individual soul from the brain, than the voluntary move- 
ment of the arm can be separated from the contraction 
of our muscles.' ^ 

Now in subconscious psychism, this parallelism 
no longer exists. If, for the moment, we ignore the 
results of the automatic activity of the brain (which 
constitutes a kind of inferior subconsciousness), no 
connection can be found between the active or superior 
subconsciousness and the degree of cerebral activity. 

On the contrary, the less active the cerebral organ, 
the greater the activity of the superior subconsciousness. 
It appears in full strength, not by a voluntary psychic 
effort, but in the inaction or the repose of the brain ; in 
states of distraction, reverie, or even of natural or induced 

Beaunis ^ who has studied the subconscious, not as 
a psychologist, but as a physiologist, remarks as follows. 
* Subconscious work does not produce weariness like 
conscious work . . . and I would say to all those who 
live by the work of their brains, to those who follow 
science, literature, and art, " let the subconscious do 
the work, it never gets tired." ' 

After that, one wonders how a physiologist of the 
standing of Beaunis has failed to see the momentous 
inference from such a declaration. This inference is, 
however, inevitable — subconscious psychism is entirely 
and specifically distinct from voluntary effort. 

Effort can do nothing to create subconscious psychism. 
At most it can start its activity and guide it in a given 
direction, that is all. Far from continued effort helping 
it, cessation of effort is the condition for the successful 
realisation of intuitive and artistic works of genius. 

* Haeckel : Le Monisme. ' Quoted by M. Dwelshauvers. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Moreover, while intellectual effort is intermittent, 
and cerebral function demands long periods of repose, 
the capacities of the subconscious remain permanent. 
Not only does it not disappear in this repose of the 
brain, but it takes its highest flights in states of cerebral 
torpor, reverie, and distraction. It is in these very various 
states, all characterised essentially by the absence of 
work and effort, that inspiration reveals its full powers 
and spontaneity. 

The dissociation of subconscious output from activity 
of the brain and voluntary effort cannot be over- 

In this subconscious output everything happens as 
if it were entirely independent of cerebral physiology. 



Parallelism is as absent from cryptomnesia as it is 
from cryptopsychism. As has already been shown at 
length, the registration, the retention, and the recollec- 
tion of states of subconscious memory, do not depend 
on effort, and, strictly speaking, are independent of the 
conditions and contingencies of the normal cerebral 

Further, the subconscious memory is vastly more 
extended and deeper than the normal memory; and, 
above all, it is as indelible as the normal memory is 
ephemeral, like the neurons with which it is associated. 

Nowhere can there be found any trace of psycho- 
physiological parallelism for the subconscious. 



We are told that * psychological faculties proceed 
from clearly defined (cerebral) localisations.' 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Is it necessary to point out that it is impossible to 
find cerebral localisations for subconscious faculties ? 
When the entire want of psycho-physiological parallelism 
in all subconscious action is borne in mind, even the 
search for it in this instance will seem absurd, a priori. 
Let us pass on. 



It is affirmed that * psychical activity is narrowly 
conditioned by the extent of organic capacity. It is 
strictly inseparable from it. The material which the 
intelligence uses comes to it from the senses. The range 
of the senses therefore limits the range of psychism.' 

There are as many errors as words in this, so far as 
the subconscious is concerned. 

The origin of subconscious capacities is not sensorial, 
for these capacities are inborn. The range of sub- 
conscious capacities transcends in every direction the 
categories of the sensorial powers. 

The higher inspiration, intuition, and genius, are 
totally independent of acquired knowledge. 



Supernormal facts prove finally that the subconscious 
psychism outranges all the organic capacities, since it 
manifests itself without their aid or even altogether 
externally to them. 

The phenomena of materialisation, described in 
Chapter II., show a dynamo-psychism actually separable 
from the organism. We have here the absolute negation 
i>f classical parallelism. 

133 L 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

There is no psycho-anatomical parallelism, for 
sensorial action may appear completely outside the 
organs of the senses; motor actions may be exercised 
outside the muscles; psychic action may develop outside 
the brain! 

There is no psycho-physiological parallelism, for all 
apparent sensorial, motor, or intellectual action may be 
suppressed or inert. The body of the subject whose 
sensibility is exerted at a distance, is usually during the 
whole time, profoundly anaesthethetised. Her muscles 
do sometimes make vague associated reflex movements 
during motor exteriorisations, but these synergetic 
contractions (not always present) never represent an 
effort corresponding to the effect. As to her nervous 
centres, they are in a state of annihilation varying from 
torpor to a special kind of trance, a kind of transitory 
coma, during which all functions except those of vege- 
tative life are completely suppressed. 

The more profound this functional annihilation, the 
more remarkable are the metapsychic manifestations. 
The more complete the exteriorisation and its separation 
from the organism, the more complex and advanced are 
the phenomena. 

As to vision at a distance and telepathy, the most 
remarkable cases are those that go furthest, and in the 
most incredible degree, beyond the range of" the senses. 

As to ideoplastic materialisation, the more distinct, 
and the further they are separated from the medium, 
the more self-activity and apparent autonomy do they 

In fine, as I have set forth in I'Etre Suhconscient^ the 
classical demonstration in favour of psycho-physiological 
parallelism in the so-called normal function of the person, 
turns entirely against the existence of any such parallelism 
in the so-called supernormal functions. 

This negative demonstration may be summed up in 
a triple formula. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

1. No correlation between anatomic physiology and 

metapsychic manifestations. 

2. Metapsychic activity is in the inverse ratio to 

functional activity. 

3. Metapsychic activity (sensorial, dynamic, motor, 

intellectual, or ideoplastic) is separable from 

the organism. 
It may be affirmed without reserve, that everything 
happens as if there were no psycho-physiological parallel- 
ism for the supernormal subconsciousness. 



The subconscious carries internal proof of this 
truth. Not only do its manifestations, in fact, transcend 
all dynamic and material contingencies, but it also 
conditions them. 

We have seen this in psychology, for the conscious 
psychism is but the smaller part of the whole, and is 
actually conditioned by that subconscious psychism 
which is the very foundation of the thinking being and 
his essential characteristic. 

This is still more evident in physiology. It has 
already been demonstrated that the organic substance 
is resolvable into a superior dynamism, which has its 
directive Idea in the subconscious. The subconscious 
directive Idea shows itself even able, in supernormal 
states, temporarily to disintegrate organic substance and 
to reorganise it in new representations. It is therefore 
certain that the organism, far from being generative 
of the Idea, as the materialist theory teaches, is, on the 
contrary, conditioned by the Idea. The organism 
appears as only an ideoplastic product of that which is 
essential in the being, that is, of its subconscious psychism. 

But even this is not all. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

This subconsciousness, which contains within itself 
the directive and centralising capacities of the Self in 
all its representations, has also the power to rise above 
even these representations. 

The faculties of telepathy, of mento-mental action, 
or lucidity, are faculties which transcend representation 
because they transcend the dynamic or material con- 
ditions which rule representation. 

In intuition, genius, and lucidity, the subconscious 
stands above the category of representation, that is, of 
time and space. 

Thus the thesis which Carl du Prel maintained in 
works that are admirable in intuition ; which Myers based 
on solid documentary proofs; which we have advanced 
on reasoning which has not been refuted, is now offered 
in its fullness to all thinkers and men of science who 
will examine it in good faith. 

It may be affirmed without reserve that there is in 
the living being a dynamo-psychism constituting the 
essence of the Self, which absolutely cannot be referred 
to the functioning of the nervous centres. This essential 
dynamo-psychism is not conditioned by the organism; 
on the contrary everything happens as though the 
organism and the cerebral functions were conditioned 
by it. 



Such are the first essential conclusions of an inclusive 
psycho-physiology, based on all the facts, but more 
especially on the higher and more complex facts, 
enforced by the deeper study of the subconscious, yet 
easily adaptable, as we shall show further on, to the 
simplest facts, upon which it throws full light. 

Science thus offers materials of high quality, which 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

if collated, co-ordinated, and classified, will suffice to 
replace the indescribable chaos of classical psycho- 
physiology by a harmonious edifice upheld on two 

These are, first the notion of a superior dynamism 
conditioning the organic complex; and second, the 
notion of a superior psychism independent of cerebral 
contingencies, and co-ordinating the multiple states of 

But before entering upon the work of synthesis, it 
is necessary to investigate what is offered to us by 
known systems of philosophy. 




The philosophies that are founded on known facts 
bearing on general and individual evolution, reach 
widely different conclusions according as they recognise 
a larger or smaller number of these facts, and go more or 
less beyond them. 

And as the physical sciences steadily progress, 
philosophy has to adapt itself to new discoveries, and 
must therefore undergo successive modifications, which 
are sometimes very radical. 

The general questions raised by evolution can be 
reduced to three: — 

Is there an evolution ? 

What is it that evolves ? • 

How, and why, does evolution act ? 

Is there an evolution ? This question can be con- 
sidered as scientifically disposed of. Yes, there is, an 
uninterrupted progress from the simple to the complex. 

What is it that evolves ? 

This question is vastly more complicated and 
difficult. Present scientific notions tend to establish the 
unity of substance. They tend moreover to analyse this 
single substance into atoms. They tend, to-day, to 
view the atom, not as (strictly speaking) material, but 
as a centre of force. 

'Matter,' writes M. Gustave le Bon,* *has 
passed through widely differing phases. The first 
carries us back to the very beginning of the universe 

* M. Gustave le Bon : L' Evolution de la Matiire. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

and is beyond the reach of experiment. It is the 
period of chaos of ancient legend. That from which 
the universe was to develop was but formless clouds 
of ether. 

' Directed and condensed by unknown forces 
acting for unknown ages, the ether finally organised 
itself into atomic forms. Matter, as it exists on 
our earth, or as we can observe it in celestial bodies 
at different evolutionary stages, is an aggregation 
of these atoms. 

* During this period of progressive formation 
the atoms stored up the energy which, under the 
modes of electricit}'-, heat, etc. . . . they gradually 
expend as time goes on. 

' In thus slowly losing their accumulated energy, 
they underwent diverse evolutionary change, and 
have put on diverse aspects. 

* When they have radiated all their energy under 
the forms of luminous, calorific, or other vibrations, 
they must return, by the very fact of this radiation, 
to the dissociated state — to the primitive ether whence 
they were derived. This, therefore, represents the 
final nirvana to which all things must return after 
a more or less ephemeral existence. 

* These summary glances over the origin of our 
universe and its end are obviously but feeble lights 
thrown on the darkness which enshrouds our past 
and veils our future. They are very insufficient 
explanations. Science can put forward no other, 
and cannot catch a glimpse of the true first reason 
of things, nor even reach the real cause of any single 
phenomenon. It must leave to philosophy and 
religion the task of imagining systems which can 
satisfy our need to know.' 

We shall endeavour, in the course of this work, to 
show that our actual knowledge allows us to go much 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

further than M. le Bon thinks, in seeking the meaning 
of evolution. 

Let us first analyse the systems as yet proposed in 
answer to the third question: How, and why, does 
evolution act ? 

Philosophical theories of evolution may, strictly 
speaking, be reduced to two — the Deistic or Providential, 
and the Pantheistic. 

Pantheistic metaphysics are infinitely complex, since 
they include all systems which locate beginning and 
end in the universe itself. These systems, both in their 
development and in their conclusions, are widely different 
one from another, and cannot be blended into a single 

We could not, within the limits of this work, review 
them all. We are constrained to make a choice, and 
that choice is naturally determined by the end at which 
we aim. We shall therefore only consider: — 

1 . The philosophy of Providential evolution accord- 

ing to dogma. 

2. Contemporary pantheistic or monistic theories. 

3. M. Bergson's theory of ' Creative Evolution.' 

4. The philosophy of the unconscious, according to 

Schopenhauer and von Hartmann. 





After having struggled long and desperately against 
the evolutionary idea, some partisans of theological and 
dogmatic philosophy, have come, little by little, willingly 
or unwillingly, to admit it. They are aware, in fact, that 
the dogma of creation is not more satisfying than 
materialist teaching. 

As Vogel very well says,* — 

* From a strictly rational point of view it comes 
to much the same to proclaim that man is the result 
of chance, or to affirm that his creation is due to 
the arbitrary act of a personal God. From the 
moral point of view, that a human being, after a life 
determined by chance, and without any sanction for 
his acts, should cease to be, is equivalent to his 
judgment by absolute and eternal decree on the 
basis of material acts of infinitesimally small import 
and duration proceeding from an equally limited 
freedom of action. But this equipoise of proba- 
bilities and absurdities which the materialist schools 
and the Western religions bring to the solution of 
the cosmic problem vanishes before the evolutionary 

According to religious believers who have accepted 
evolutionism, the universe has evolved by the will and 
under the guidance of a supremely powerful, supremely 

* Vogel: La Religion de V t.voluiionnisme (Fischlin, Brussels). 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

just, and supremely good Providence. Transformism 
is said to be in no way incompatible with the idea of a 
Divine plan and with traditional teaching disencumbered 
of puerile and obsolete dogmatic impedimenta. 

Far from being contrary to the providential idea, 
they say, the evolutionary formula would remove the 
grave objections arising from the imperfections of the 
universe. These imperfections, too marked to be recon- 
cilable with the notion of a responsible Providence and 
a definitive creation, are, on the contrary, easily compre- 
hensible in a world in process of evolution. They would 
then appear only as necessities inherent in an inferior 
state, and even as the measure of the inferiority of that 
state at the moment.* 

It is not without some hesitation that I discuss the 
cogency of this reasoning.* Such discussions must seem 
useless and wearisome alike to partisans and opponents 
of the idea of Providence, for all that can be said on this 
subject has already been said; also the question is one 
of those that go with unshakable convictions or beliefs. 

But as soon as men claim to substitute logical argu- 
ments for an ancient act of faith apart from any criterion, 
it is necessary to follow them into the domain of facts, 
and to set forth once more the objections which inevitably 
rise up against their thesis. 

These objections can be reduced to two leading 
ones : — 

{a) That based on the evidence of gropings and 
errors in evolution. 

(J?) That based on the prevalence of evil in the 

^ See the curious collection of Conferences of the Rev. F. Zahn, trans- 
lated under the title, L' Evolution et le Dogme, by the Abb6 Flageolet, 
published by Lethellieux, lo rue Cassette, Paris. 

* This chapter must on no account be considered apart from the rest. 
Those which precede it and those which follow, prove that there is no 
need to have recourse to the providential idea in order to recognise an 
ideal harmony in the universe. We shall endeavour to demonstrate 
that evolution tends towards the reaUsation of sovereign consciousness, 
sovereign justice, and sovereign good. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 



An evolution proceeding on a Divine plan or 
constantly governed by a sovereign and perfect Provi- 
dence, cannot involve gropings or errors. But these 
gropings and errors are innumerable. They are not 
the exception, they seem almost the rule. 

Thousands and thousands of species have disappeared 
in the course of the ages. In these evolutionary forms 
there has been what looks like reckless squandering of 
vital force and energy. 

Everything in evolution shows a creative force that 
is not sure of itself; which produces to excess in order 
to reach concrete results in selected forms. 

These gropings are very clear in the lower phases of 
evolution. Germs of species, as of individuals, are 
produced by thousands ; a small number only succeed 
in growing at all; among these privileged ones only a 
few reach the adult state. 

How can we attribute to a divine plan a wastage 
which appears useless and inexplicable } 

Everything happens, in fact, as if there were no 
appreciable plan. De Vries has shown that among 
vegetable species mutations arise quite independently 
of the vital factors; suddenly, anarchically, and in 
different directions, without reference to the utility of 
this or that new character. Selection then operates. 
The classical factors come into play to repress or to 
develop the characters that have appeared, causing the 
survival or the disappearance of the new species. But 
the interior creative impulse, in plants and no doubt 
in inferior animals also, is a blind impulse, a kind of 
incoherent and disorderly explosion. 

In the higher animals, even if the impulse is less 
blind, if it corresponds with a need, or with something 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

resembling an obscure aspiration towards higher forms, 
it nevertheless still shows gropings and errors. 

In the history of the reptiles of the Secondary epoch 
how can we fail to see a groping after the higher evolu- 
tionary series of mammals ? Is the whole of evolution 
anything but a series of such gropings ? 

These gropings and errors are found in details as 
well as in the mass; useless organic characters which 
do not fit into any plan are in no way exceptional. 

Delage and Goldsmith cite many instances. 

* The diverse colouration of the wings of insects, 
of the shells of molluscs, characteristics which, to 
follow the expression of Eimer, are no more useful 
to them than the brilliant colour of gold to that 
metal, or its iridescent tints to the soap bubble. The 
exaggerated dimensions of the antlers of the fossil 
Irisk elk; the curved and practically unusable tusks 
of the mammoth; the extraordinarily developed 
fangs of the modern babiroussa; the eyes of certain 
crustaceans placed at the end of over-long pedicles } 
etc. ... It would seem as if the development once 
begun is carried on by a kind of inertia.* 

There are even organs which are not only useless, 
but even injurious, such as the appendix in man. 

Instincts also sometimes go astray; deceived by their 
instincts some game-birds, such as woodcock, always 
return to the same places, where they meet their death; 
migratory fish are unable to avoid certain dangerous 
zones where they perish by thousands; etc. 


If the existence of errors and gropings is hardly 
compatible with a Divine plan, there is another considera- 
tion even less so. It is the prevalence of evil in the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

In fact we find evil everywhere. It seems that the 
extinction of the feeble dominates human and animal life. 
Earth, air, and water are just immense and incessant 
fields of war, compared to which the battles of Man seem 
slight and intermittent. 

The most beautiful birds, and the most delicate 
insects are very often more ferocious than the large 

Why should there be this instinct of refined ferocity 
in the insect, even though it be devoid of thought or 
responsibility } 

There is no unavoidable necessity that animals should 
devour one another, since certain of the more powerful 
among them are entirely vegetable feeders. 

Why so much sickness, epidemics, and so many 
cosmic catastrophes } Why, always and everywhere, 
so much suffering and evil } 

The prevalence of evil is really the most serious 
objection that can be raised against the idea of creation 
by an all-wise and all-good Providence. The old irre- 
futable argument inevitably recurs to the mind: If 
there is a Creator, that Creator must have been wanting 
either in the knowledge, or in the will, or in the power, 
to prevent evil ; therefore that Creator cannot be at once 
supremely wise, or supremely good, or supremely 

The strength of this argument is manifest by the 
futility of the refutations which have been attempted. 

It has been said that if there were no evil, the creature 
would be the equal of the Creator. This sophism cannot 
hold. Unless it were the work of a Demiurgus of but 
moderate power, and not of a true Providence, creation 
could not be based on universal suffering. It should 
involve the minimum, not the maximum of suffering. 
It has also been said that evil is the consequence of the 
liberty given by God to his creatures. But it is evident 
that great epidemics, most infirmities and diseases, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

great cosmic catastrophes, etc. . . . have nothing to do 
with human liberty. 

Finally, * original sin ' has been alleged. This dogma 
does not absolve Providence from responsibility. Guyau 
has put this in a masterly way in his Irreligion de 
VAvenir\ — 

* The great resource of Christianity and of most 
religions is the idea of a Fall. But this explanation 
of evil by a primitive failure comes to explaining 
evil by itself; necessarily there must, before the 
fall, have been some defect in the supposed freedom 
of the will or in the circumstances which caused it 
to weaken; no fault is really primal. A man who 
is perfect and walks under God's eye does not fall 
when there are no stones on the road. There can 
be no sin without temptation, and thus we come back 
to the idea that God was the first tempter; it is 
God himself who fails morally in a failure which He 
Himself has willed. To explain the primal fall — 
the source of all others — the sin of Lucifer, theolo- 
gians have imagined a sin of the intelligence instead 
of a sin of the flesh ; it is by pride that the angels 
fell from their first estate, and that sin arises in the 
deepest element of being. But Pride, that sin of 
the mind, arises in fact from short-sightedness; the 
highest and most complete knowledge is that which 
best knows its own limitations. Pride, therefore, 
involves to restricted knowledge, and the pride of 
angels can only proceed from God. Evil is desired 
and wrought only because of reasons for it, but 
there are no reasons against reason itself. If, 
according to the apologists of Free Will, human 
intelligence by its interior pride and perversity can 
create and arouse motives for ill-doing, it can at 
least only do that when its knowledge is limited, 
doubtful, and uncertain. There is hesitation only 

149 M 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

in matters concerning which there is no complete 
evidence to the understanding— one cannot err in 
the light and against the light. A Lucifer was 
therefore by his very nature impeccable. In a hypo- 
thetically perfect world the desire of evil could arise 
only from the opposition which an imperfect intelli- 
gence would mistakenly think existed between his 
own good and the general good. But if God and 
his work had been really perfect, the opposition 
between personal and general good would have been 
impossible. Even to the best human minds this 
opposition appears merely temporary and provisional ; 
much more would it seem so to the archangel of 
Intelligence itself — the Light-bearer of thought. 
To know, is to participate in a measure in the supreme 
Truth — the Divine Consciousness — to have all know- 
ledge would be to be able to reflect the very conscious- 
ness of God : how could a Satanic mentality emanate 
from the all-divine } * 

Moreover, the doctrine of original sin is only applicable 
to Humanity. Disciples of Descartes have grasped this 
argument so thoroughly that they have put the objection 
aside by declaring that animals are automata. 

* If animals could think,* they said, * they would 
have a soul. If this soul is mortal, that of man may 
easily be so. If it is immortal, it is impossible to 
understand how or why the animals should suffer. 
Have the beasts also eaten forbidden fruit ? Do 
they also await a Redeemer ? * 

In these days when the existence of an * animal 
soul ' is no longer doubted, the Cartesian argument 
necessarily turns against the existence of any divine 
plan. As a last resource the dogmatists are reduced to 
deny man's capacity to understand the Divine plan, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Doubtless human judgment is still very weak, but 
to deny it the right to pronounce judgment on the 
painful conditions of earthly life is to disparage it unduly. 
That judgment has been given as follows. 

Evolution cannot be the work of a supremely wise, 
just, good, and powerful divinity, whether that divinity 
had laid down its smallest details in advance, or would 
intervene from time to time to correct errors. 

Endeavours have, however, been made to reconcile 
the idea of Providence with the facts. It has been said 
that gropings and errors might be comprehensible after 
the following manner: Providence, in creating the 
primitive universe, with a progressive impulse and all 
potentialities contained within it, would have set bounds 
to Itself. The impulse once given would proceed auto- 
matically, and its objectifications would develop freely, 
outside any pre-established plan, and without intervention 
on the part of Providence. 

This is more or less what is expressed by the Rev. 
F. Zahn in his book. Evolution and Dogma, 

* For the old school of natural theology God 
is the direct cause of all that exists. For the evolu- 
tionist He is the cause of causes — causa causarum 
— of the world and all that it contains. The old 
theories were that God created everything directly 
in the state in which it at present exists. According 
to Evolution, creation, or rather the development of 
living creatures, has been a slow and gradual process 
needing vast periods of time to transform the chaos 
into a cosmos, and to give to the visible universe 
the beauty and the harmony which it now shows. 
. . . This is the true meaning of Evolution ; and so 
understood, Evolution, to borrow Temple's expres- 
sion,^ " teaches us that the execution of the Divine 
plan derives more from the primordial act of 

* Temple : Relations between Religion and Science. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

creation, and less from the ulterior acts of providential 
governance; there is thus, on the one hand, more 
of God's foresight, and on the other fewer interven- 
tions; and what is taken from the latter, is added 
to the former.* 

On this theory the responsibility of the Creator for 
evil is diminished but not abolished, for it cannot be 
admitted that God in His omniscience would not have 
foreseen the future predominance of evil. 

Deists are then led to the conclusion that evolution 
could not have been directed differently because evil is 
the condition under which evolution acts, containing 
in itself the germ of future good. 

This involves a curious restriction of Divine omnipo- 
tence, although, by definition it cannot be conditioned 
by anything. 

Further, it is by no means demonstrated that evil 
is an indispensable factor in evolution. Many con- 
temporary naturalists think differently, basing their 
conclusion on the impartial examination of facts, and 
not on preconceived ideas. 

What do these facts prove } That new variations 
appear and prosper most readily where the surrounding 
conditions demand the least effort to survive. 

Kropotkine, studying the Siberian regions, remarks 
that life there is scanty, and that periods of hard climatic 
conditions are followed, not by progressive evolution 
but by regression in all directions. 

The Russian botanist Korschinsky^ reaches similar' 
conclusions. New forms do not appear under adverse 
conditions of life, or, if they do appear, they immediately 
perish. Variation is most frequent when the environ- 
ment is favourable, and inclement conditions, far from 
favouring evolution, slow it down by restraining 

* Korschinsky ^ Hiterogenise et Evolution, Contribution 4 la Th6orie 
de rOrigine des Esp^ces (Mem. Acad. Petrograd, ix. 1899). 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

variation and eliminating new forms which have 
begun to develop. 

Another botanist, Luther Burbank,* a grower in 
California, after much research, concludes that a rich 
soil and generally favourable conditions encourage 
frequent variations and assist them, while rigorous 
conditions of life arrest variation and bring about general 

For humanity, as for the lower forms of life, years 
of famine, of epidemics, and of war, give rise to an 
enfeebled and inferior generation. 

Two things therefore are certain: {a) evil, when 
too pronounced, does not favour evolution, but impedes 
it. It is no longer a spur, but a curb; and (B) 
evil is not an indispensable condition of evolution, since 
life is more abundant and varied in regions which are 
favoured by conditions of climate, food, and well- 

Another decisive consideration is, that since adap- 
tation and the struggle for life are secondary factors, and 
since evolution can be conceived to take place without 
them, it is clear that evil can no longer be considered 
as the sine qua non of evolution. 

It is plausible that evil should be inevitable in the 
lower phases of evolution, and should then appear as 
the measure of their inferiority; but it cannot be so 
considered in all cases, unless we imagine the worlds 
evolving under a primitive impulse which is both blind 
and unconscious. This will not fit with any hypothesis 
of a divine plan. 

No arguments, however subtle, can hold against 
this evidence : * a Creator is a Being in whom all things 
have their reason and their cause, and consequently 
supreme and final responsibility vests in Him. He thus 
bears the weight of all that there is of evil in the universe. 
In the degree that the ideas of infinite power and supreme 
'Delage et Goldsmith : Les Theories de I' Evolution. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

liberty are inseparable from our ideas of God, He loses 
all excuse, for the Absolute depends on nothing, and 
has no joint liability with anything; on the contrary, 
everything depends on Him and has its reason in Him. 
Therefore all culpability carries back to Him; His 
work, by reason of the interdependence of its effects, 
no longer appears to modern thought as anything but 
a single act; and that act is amenable to moral 
judgment, and by the same right we judge any other 
act it is permissible to judge its author; the condition 
of the world itself is for us the verdict on God. And 
as, with the increase in moral perception, the evil and 
immoral tendencies in the universe shock our sensibilities 
more and more, it seems more and more clear that to 
affirm a * Creator * of the world, is, so to speak, to bring 
all evil to a focus in Him, to centralise all this immorality 
in one being, and to justify the paradox that * Evil is 
God.* To affirm a Creator is, in fact to transfer evil 
from the world to God as its primary source; it is to 
absolve Man and the universe, and to lay the onus on 
its author who in freedom of action created it.* ^ 


A last resource remains in order to absolve not only 
man and the universe, but God also from responsibility: 
it is to refuse to see in God an untrammeled Creator, and 
to attribute the creation of the world to a demigod or an 
evil daemon; to see in the universe * a dual principle, 
good and evil struggling on an equality and victorious 
by turns.* 

However complicated, absurd, and foolish, the 
Manichean concept may appear to the philosophic mind, 
it is not dead. It would seem to be still current in the 
mystical sects which have inherited mediaeval teaching. 

* Guyau : L'Irreligion de I'Avenir. 

¥rom the Unconscious to the Conscious 

The echo of these old traditions is heard elsewhere. It 
is not without profound surprise that we find Manichean 
ideas in minds imbued with Christian tradition. Flournoy* 
who has not hesitated to put forward such ideas, 
endeavours to avoid the inevitable objections to them 
by a subterfuge: — 

* If God exists He has been from the beginning 
in conflict with some independent Principle whence 
Evil is derived. He is therefore not the Absolute, 
the All-powerful, the omnipotent Creator of this 
universe, and we revert inevitably to the ancient 
Manichean doctrine. I admit that I am not enough 
of a theologian or of a philosopher to clear up the 
mystery! But this, perhaps, would not be the first 
time that a heresy condemned by the Councils might 
be found to have reason on its side, and to be more 
conformable to the thought of Christ than received 
tradition. However that may be, the notion of a 
God, limited, no doubt, but entirely good, cease- 
lessly working to bring the greatest possible good 
out of evils which He has not created, and striving 
to establish His reign of Love in primeval chaos 
(which would be the cause and the last word on 
evolution); and this notion, I say, which seems to 
me to be the inference from the whole life of Jesus, 
appears infinitely more generous than the current 
concept of a vindictive God awarding death, visiting 
the sins of the fathers on the children, and heaping 
on His creatures (and by choice on the best of 
them) trials for which it is their duty to thank Him ! * 

Is there any need to discuss Manicheism or 
neo-Manicheism any further ? Evidently not. It is 
sufficient to point out that both are ineffectual and 
complicated, and therefore contrary to all scientific or 
philosophical method. 

* Flournoy : Le Ginie Religieux. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Manicheism appears only as a striking proof of the 
impossibility of reconciling the hypothesis of a Provi- 
dential creation with the problem of evil. It cannot 
meet the argument — that the hypothesis of a First 
Cause external to the universe is a useless hypothesis. 

Since, in spite of ourselves, we must always come 
to the concept of a First Cause, itself uncaused, it is 
unnecessary to place this primal cause anywhere else 
than in the universe itself. 

The notion of creation ex nihilo gives no solution to 
the inherent difficulty that attends the search for a 
First Cause. It only reveals that difficulty and increases 
it by superadding the terrible problem of evil. 



Monism, which is an adaptation of pantheism to the 
natural sciences and to the evolutionist hypothesis, is 
a very attractive theory. On the one hand it simplifies 
high philosophy conformably to scientific principle and 
method, by reducing it to a single hypothesis; and, on 
the other, it is in evident agreement with the evolutionary 
synthesis as a whole, as applicable to the universe and 
the individual. 

The pantheistic philosophy presents an aspect of 
undeniable probability, and in the sequel will be seen 
to be supported by the new psychological concepts. 

Without going outside the natural sciences it can 
be stated that the mechanical, determinist, and teleo- 
logical concepts which have been the subject of endless 
philosophical controversy are easily reconciled in the 
pantheistic synthesis; while apart from that synthesis 
they are without positive foundation and remain vain 
and sterile speculations. Apart from the pantheistic 
philosophy, all concepts of the universe which claim to 
be scientific, come to this: — 

That * the evolution of the universe is determined 
by the mechanical addition of new elements to the 
primitive elements, these increments giving rise to a 
more and more perfect and complex whole.* 

Facts, however, are against this hypothesis. As 
M. Bergson remarks, ' a single glance at the develop- 
ment of an embryo shows that life does proceed by the 
association and addition of new elements, but by the 
fission and dissociation of the old.* 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

And, as we have seen, the greater cannot 
proceed from the less unless potentially contained 
in it. 

Teleological ideas, unless they are founded in 
pantheistic ideas and start from them, necessarily end 
in the commonplace and childish theories, so easy to 
turn into ridicule, according to which all the components 
of the universe must have been made for each other. 
To dismiss this idea it is only necessary to point out, 
as Russel Wallace does, that every adaptation necessarily 
presents the semblance of an intentional design. 

Starting from pantheism on the other hand, both 
the mechanical means and the teleological end are of a 
different kind, involving as they do a single meta- 
physical hypothesis. They imply the idea that our 
comprehension of Space and Time is relative to our 
understanding; and that when we rise above these 
relative ideas, we see, and ought to see, neither beginning 
nor end, neither origin, termination, nor arrival ; neither 
past, present, nor future, but simply a harmonious 
whole. It must not be said that the universe has been 
constructed for a given end by stated means; nor that 
the means necessarily determine the end. 

Mechanical and teleological distinctions are vain. 
They vanish in the absolute. As Bergson says, we thus 
come to * a metaphysical system in which the totality 
of things is placed in eternity, and in which their 
apparent duration expresses merely the infirmity of a 
mind which cannot know everything at once.* 

This is what Laplace had previously expressed in 
the well-known dictum that * to an intelligence, which, 
at a given moment, should know all the forces which 
move Nature and the relative situations of all beings; 
and if, moreover, that intelligence were powerful enough 
to analyse these data, it would comprise under the same 
formula the movements of the greatest bodies in the 
universe and those of the smallest atom ; nothing would 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

be uncertain to its view, and the future, like the past, 
would be present to its eyes.* 

What does M. Bergson object to in this ? That 
we cannot eliminate Time: * Nothing in all our experi- 
ence is more unquestionable than Duration. We 
perceive duration like a river which cannot change its 
flow. It is the foundation of our being, and, as we are 
well aware, the very essence of things with which we 
are in relation.' 

This objection is certainly insufficient: if Time and 
Space are but illusions of our limited understanding, it 
is obvious that these illusions may be imposed on our 
understanding without therefore ceasing to be illusions. 

It seems, then, to be true that mechanical or teleo- 
logical metaphysics can neither be demonstrated nor 
refuted, because they are outside our modes of reasoning. 
Nevertheless they seem to receive unexpected support 
by the facts of prophetical lucidity, and a certain number 
of these facts are well established. 

But even admitting the abstract and metaphysical 
possibility, this theory brings no concrete addition to 
the doctrine of evolution. Questions of transcendental 
ends and means are inseparable from consideration of 
the Absolute. It is above our intelligence, and cannot 
be discussed to any profit. We must be content to 
admit the necessity for a single evolutionary principle 
containing within itself all evolutionary possibilities, 
and merely endeavour to understand how these possi- 
bilities come into realisation. 

Now it is quite certain that the classical naturalistic 
pantheism, or Monism, does not aid us here. 

' This supreme law of Nature,' writes Haeckel, 
* being laid down, and all other laws made subord- 
inate to it, we have convinced ourselves of the 

» Haeckel : The Riddle of the Universe. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

universal unity of Nature, and of the eternal validity 
of natural laws. From the dark problem of Matter 
there issues the clear law of Matter. . . / 

In these words he only enunciates a formula which 
is very incomplete if not actually valueless. 

The clear law of matter has in reality nothing clear 
about it except its affirmation of unity. It is quite dark 
as to all that concerns the essential factors and meaning 
of evolution. 



I HAVE already, on several occasions, had to quote M. 
Bergson. It is now desirable to undertake a methodical 
study of his work with the view of ascertaining whether 
it brings us nearer a solution of the problem of evolution. 

Although I wish to consider here only those ideas 
of M. Bergson which deal with evolution, I shall not 
be able to avoid some references to his general philo- 
sophical system. His theory of Creative Evolution is, 
no doubt, his masterpiece; but its leading idea cannot 
be grasped apart from his other works. 

I shall therefore endeavour faithfully to reproduce 
the main outlines of his system without taking sides 
either with its obstinate detractors, or its devout 



M. Bergson admits transformism, he considers 
its proof sufficient and unquestionable. But, he adds, 
even if they were not, the evolutionary concept could 
not be put aside. He endeavours to demonstrate this 
necessity in pages which are certainly the most powerful, 
the most profound, and the most noteworthy of any 
that he has written. 

* Let us suppose that transformism were con- 
victed of error. Let us suppose that by inference 
or experiment, species were shown to arise by 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

a discontinuous process of which we at present 
have no idea. Would this invalidate transformism 
in its most interesting parts — those which have 
most importance for ourselves ? The main outlines 
of classification would remain unchanged, there 
would be the same relations between comparative 
anatomy and comparative embryology. Thence- 
forward we could, and should, still maintain the 
same relations — the same parentage — between living 
forms as transformism presents to us to-day. 

* These relations would, no doubt, be more 
of a parentage of idea than of a material filiation. 
But as the actual data of palaeontology would remain, 
it would have to be admitted that the forms between 
which this parentage of idea subsists, have appeared 
successively and not simultaneously. Now the 
philosophical mind asks no more than this of the 
evolutionary theory. It is the function of that theory 
to verify the relations of parentage in idea, and to 
maintain that where there is what may be called 
a logical filiation between diverse forms, there is 
also a chronological sequence between the species 
in which those forms appear. This double proposi- 
tion would remain, whatever causes might be in 
operation. And thenceforward it would still be 
necessary to suppose an evolution somewhere. This 
might be in creative thought in which the ideas of 
different species would have successively engendered 
each other, just as transformism maintains the 
species themselves to have been engendered on the 
earth. Or it might be in a scheme of vital organisa- 
tion immanent in Nature, gradually becoming more 
distinct; the relationship of logical and chrono- 
logical filiation between abstract forms being precisely 
those which transformism presents to us as the 
relationship of real filiation between living creatures. 
Or again, the same sequence would be seen in some 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

unknown cause of life developing its effects as if 
one did actually engender another. Evolution 
would then only have been transposed. It would 
have passed from the visible to the invisible. Nearly 
everything that transformism asserts to-day would 
remain intact, only it would be interpreted in a 
different manner. 

* Is it not well then to keep to the letter of 
transformism, as understood almost unanimously by 
men of science } . , . For this reason we consider 
that the language of transformism is necessary in 
all philosophy, as its positive teaching is necessary 
in science.' 

Evolution being definitely established with all the 
weight of sure fact, it is incumbent upon us to seek to 
understand how it is effected. For M. Bergson evolution 
is due to none of the factors to which it is ascribed by 
naturalists; these are all secondary. 

* We in no way dispute that adaptation to 
environment may be a necessary cause of evolution 
. . . but it is one thing to acknowledge that external 
circumstances are forces of which evolution must 
take account, and another thing to maintain that they 
are its directing forces. . . . The truth is that 
adaptation explains the minor windings of evolu- 
tionary progress but not the general direction of the 
movement, still less the movement itself. The road 
which leads to a town is certainly compelled to go 
up hills and down slopes, it adapts itself to the 
ground, but the accidents of the ground are not 
the causes of the road, nor do they assign its general 

What, then, is the essential factor } 
This essential factor is a kind of interior impulse, 
an original and undefined ' vital surge ' (JIan vital), 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

This vital impulse pertains to an immanent principle 
which is life, intelligence, and matter. It transcends 
them all, in the past, the present, and the future. It 
presupposes them, contains them, and precreates them, 
so to say, in proportion as they come into realisation. 

This immanent principle, however, has no final 
completeness in itself; it comes into existence progres- 
sively as it creates the evolving universe. It constitutes 
what M. Bergson calls * Duration.* This * Duration * 
is not very easily understood. An eminent disciple of 
M. Bergson describes it as follows. 

* It is a melodious evolution of moments in 
which each has the resonance of the preceding 
moment and foretells that which will succeed it; 
it is an amplification which never stops, and a 
perpetual origin of new manifestations. It is a 
Becoming, indivisible, qualitative, organic, beyond 
Space, and not amenable to number. . . , Imagine 
a symphony which should be conscious of itself 
and creative of itself: it is after this manner that 
Duration is best understood.* ^ 

It is duration, with its vital impulse, which is the 
essential cause of evolution, and not Darwinian or 
Lamarckian adaptation. 

How are we to conceive of evolution from * dura- 
tion } * Everything happens as if there were a centre 
whence worlds are thrown off like fireworks in a vast 

But this centre is not a concrete thing; it is * a 
continuity of outflow.* 

This centre is God; but * God, thus defined, has 
no completed existence: He is ceaseless life. He is 
action. He is liberty. Creation, thus conceived of, is 
no mystery: we experience it in ourselves as soon as 
we act freely.* 

* Le Roy : Une Philosophie Nouvelle. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Therefore there is no pre-determined finality; no 
scheme of evolution laid down in advance; there are 
only objectifications which involve and succeed each 
other; * a creation which proceeds without end in virtue 
of an initial impulse.' This creation brings forth, not 
only the forms of life, but the ideas which allow the 
intellect to understand it, and the terms by which it is 
expressed. Its future goes beyond the present and 
cannot be described by any existing idea.* 

M. le Roy^ has summed up as clearly as may be 
the thought of M. Bergson on the creative -processus 
and on the concepts of spirit and matter issuing from 
that processus. 

* In this concept of Being, consciousness is omni- 
present as the original and fundamental reality, 
always there under a thousand different degrees of 
intensity or of sleep, and under an infinitely diverse 

* The vital surge consists in an impulse to create. 
Life, in its humblest stages is a spiritual activity; 
and its efforts start a current of ascending objectifica- 
tion, which in its turn directs the counter-current 
of matter. Thus all Reality appears as a double 
movement of ascent and descent. The former alone, 
revealing an interior energy of creative impulsion, 
has endless duration; the latter might be said to 
be almost instantaneous, like the recoil of a spring, 
but each imposes its rhythm on the other. From 
this point of view Spirit and Matter do not appear as 
opposed entities — the statical terms of a fixed anti- 
thesis — but rather as movement in inverse directions; 
and in certain relations it would be better to speak 
of spiritualisation and materialisation, rather than 
of Spirit and Matter, the latter process of materiali- 
sation resulting automatically from an interruption 

* Le Roy : Une Philosophie Nouvelle, 

165 N 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

of the former. ** Consciousness " or ** Supercon- 
sciousness " is the rocket whose extinguished remains 
fall to earth as Matter. 

* Under what metaphor is the course of the 
evolution of the universe presented to us } Not 
that of a deductive flow, nor of a series of stationary 
pulsations, but as a fountain, which, expanding as 
It rises, partially arrests or delays the drops which 
fall back. The jet itself — the reality disclosed — is 
the vital activity of which spiritual activity is the 
highest form; and the drops that fall back 
are the creative movement which descends with 
its reality dissipated — they represent Matter and 

According to M. Bergson, * Matter is defined as a 
species of descent; this descent is defined as the inter- 
ruption of an ascent, the ascent itself as a growth, and 
thus a creative principle is inherent in all things.* * 
We are then faced with the question of origin. How 
can the universe have come from nothing .•' How can 
that which is have sprung from the void, — from that 
which is not } 

According to M. Bergson that question should not 
be asked. 

* The idea of nothingness in the sense of being 
an opposite to existence, is a pseudo-idea.' In 
fact, * nothingness is unthinkable, for to think of 
" nothing '* is necessarily to think in some way; 
the representation of the void is always the repre- 
sentation of a plenum^ which can be analysed into 
two positive elements — the idea, more or less distinct, 
of a substitution ; and the sensation, real or imagined, 
of a desire or a regret.* 

Hence * the idea of absolute nothingness (under- 
stood in the sense of the abolition of everything) is 

»M. leRoy: Ibid. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

an idea destructive of itself, a pseudo-idea, a mere 

' When I say, ** there is nothing," it is not that 
I perceive " a nothing," I can perceive only what is; 
but I have not perceived that which I sought for and 
expected, and I express my disappointment in the 
language of my desire.* 

In fine, it is only by an illusion of reason that the 
idea of Void is opposed to that of All. It is to * oppose 
a plenum to a -plenum^ and * the question why a certain 
thing exists is consequently a meaningless question — 
a pseudo-problem built on a pseudo-idea.' 

The creative -processus cannot therefore not exist, 
and there is no mystery in verify^ing the existence of 
matter, life, or consciousness. They are functions of 
' duration.' 

The only mystery lies in the relations between 
Creative Evolution, matter, life, and consciousness. 

M. Bergson rejects materialist theories. Conscious- 
ness is not the result of the working of the brain : — 

* Brain and consciousness correspond because 
each measures the amount of choice which the living 
being has at disposal, the one by the complexity of 
its structure, the other by the intensity of its awake- 
ness. But this correspondence is not an equivalence 
or a parallelism. Precisely because a cerebral 
condition merely expresses the action nascent in the 
corresponding psychological condition, the psycho- 
logical condition vastly outstrips the state of the 

M. G. Gillouin^ says: — 

* M. Bergson's writings abound in ingenious 
and striking similes to bring out the solidarity sui 

* B-ssai suit les Donnies Immidiates de la Conscience. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

generis of the consciousness and the organism. 
Because, he says, a certain bolt is necessary to a 
given machine, which works when the bolt is in 
place and stops if it be removed, no one will main- 
tain that the bolt is the equivalent of the machine. 
But the relation of the brain to consciousness may 
well be that of the bolt to the engine. Again, M. 
Bergson says, the consciousness of a living being 
is in solidarity with his brain in the sense that a 
pointed knife is in solidarity with its point. The 
brain is the sharp point by which consciousness 
penetrates the dense fabric of events, but it is no 
more co-extensive with consciousness than the point 
is co-extensive with the knife.' 

Therefore the consciousness that resides in us is 
not bound to the organism, but enjoys liberty. But this 
word 'liberty* must be taken in a very wide sense; 
that which is free, is the interior, complete self, rather 
than the individualised person. 

* We are free,' says M. Bergson, 'when our acts 
emanate from our whole personality. Liberty is 
therefore a function of our power of introspection. 
. . . Liberty is something which continuously arises 
in us; we are liberable rather than liberated; and 
in the last analysis, it is a matter of duration, not 
of space and number, nor of our improvisation or 
decree; the free act has been long prepared, it is 
weighted with our whole past, and falls like a ripe 
fruit from our previous life.* 

* What are we, in fact,^ what is our character^ 
if it is not the condensation of our history since birth, 
or even before birth, since we bring pre-natal 
dispositions with us } No doubt it is but a small 
part of that past that enters into our thoughts, but 

»Le Roy; Ibid. ^U Evolution Criatrice. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

we desire, and will, and act, from the whole of that 
past, including the original bent of the soul.' 

These general ideas being admitted, let us examine 
more thoroughly the mechanism of Creative Evolution. 
This evolution does not take place in a direct line. 
From the centre of origin there flow out many lines, at 
first interpenetrating, close, and parallel, which, according 
to their degrees of evolution, then separate and diverge 
like the trail of a group of rockets. 

On the earth the chief lines of evolution end in the 
creation of plant life, of instinctive animal life, and 
intellectual human life. These forms are absolutely 
distinct; there is a chasm between the plant and the 
animal, and between the animal and Man. 

M. Bergson writes: — 

' The capital error which has vitiated naturalistic 
philosophy since the time of Aristotle, has been to 
see in vegetative, instinctive, and rational life three 
successive degrees of one and the same tendency, 
whereas they are three divergent directions of one 
activity which has become tripartite in process of 
its increase. The difference between them is one 
of essential nature, not of degree.* 

He says, further: — 

* Intelligence and instinct represent two divergent 
and equally elegant solutions of one and the same 
problem; . . . between animals and Man there is 
no longer a difference of degree, but of kind. 

To meet the objection that intelligence is discoverable 
in animals and instincts in Man, M. Bergson says: — 

* Having at first interpenetrated one another. 
Intelligence and Instinct retain something of their 
common origin. Neither the one nor the other are 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

found in their pure state; there is no intelligence 
in which traces of instinct are not to be found; and, 
more especially, no instinct without a fringe of 

But the essential characteristic of the animal is 
instinct, and that of the man is intelligence. 

What is the part assigned to Man in the creation ? 
His function is unique, he represents that which is 
essential in evolution as actually realised, vegetable 
and animal life being merely gropings after the human. 

* Everything,' says M. Bergson, * comes to pass 
as though an undecided and impressionable being, 
call him Man or Superman, as you will, had sought 
to realise himself, and had succeeded in doing so 
only at the price of leaving a part of himself by the 
way. These residues are represented by the animal, 
and even by the vegetable world.* 

Man only has been able to acquire consciousness. 

* In Man, consciousness breaks the chain (of 
material needs); in Man and in Man alone, it is 
freed. Till this point was reached life had been an 
effort of consciousness to raise matter, and con- 
sciousness was more or less crushed out under its 
weight. . . . The task to be accomplished was to 
use matter (which is necessity), to create an instru- 
ment for liberty, to make machinery which would 
triumph over mechanism, and to employ the deter- 
minism of Nature to pass through the meshes of 
the net which that determinism had spread. But 
in all cases except that of Man, consciousness has 
been caught in the net through which it would fain 
have passed. 

* It has remained captive to the mechanism which 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

it invented. From the springboard whence Life 
took its leap, all the others failed to reach the bar; 
Man alone has leaped high enough.* 

Is the human consciousness, thus formed and freed, 
indestructible or does it cease at death ? 

To this grave question, which dominates all religions 
and philosophies, M. Bergson merely replies: — 

* All Humanity is an immense army which 
presses forward in Space and Time, before, behind, 
and by the side of us all, in an impulsive charge that 
can overcome every resistance and clear many an 
obstacle, perhaps even death.* 

Such is the summary of M. Bergson*s chief teaching. 
We have now to discuss the method on which this 
teaching is founded. 

M. Bergson 's method for the solution of philoso- 
phical problems is to appeal to the intuition and not to 
the understanding. 

He allots to intelligence the task of finding solutions 
of all problems which have to do with the relations of 
the Self to the universe, and with the knowledge of 
material and inorganic existence, nothing more. This 
is the domain of science. 

As for the world of Life and the soul, it is amenable 
neither to thought nor to scientific knowledge, but to 

What, then, is intuition, according to M. Bergson } 

The intuition is nothing else than instinct conscious 
of itself, able to consider its purpose and enlarge that 
purpose indefinitely. 

* If the consciousness which sleeps in instinct 
were to awake; if it were to interiorise itself in 
knowledge instead of exteriorising itself in action; if 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

we could question it, and if it could reply, it would 
give up to us the most intimate secrets of life, for 
it does but continue the work by which Life organises 

Unfortunately, as a consequence of the evolution 
of the animal to man, intuition is vague and discon- 
tinuous; * it is an expiring lamp which burns up at 
long intervals and for a few moments only ... it sheds 
but a feeble and flickering light on our personality, 
on the place which we hold in Nature, on our origin 
and destiny, but its rays scarcely penetrate the darkness 
in which our reason leaves us.' 

The intuition, however, cannot dispense with reason, 
we must inevitably reckon with reason in some measure, 
and taking account of the lessons of fact, must submit 
them to the control of reason. 

But * the proper task of philosophy is to absorb 
reason into instinct, or rather to reintegrate instinct in 
Intelligence.' Thus understood ' philosophy includes, 
pre-supposes, and rests on science ; and it further involves 
tests by experimental verification.'* 

It has been objected that this, concept of intuition 
and its relations to intelligence is paradoxical, the reason- 
ing being in a vicious circle. Bergsonians have been 
told — 'you claim, on the one hand, that intuition goes 
beyond intelligence in a domain proper to itself, and 
on the other you reserve to intelligence a right of control 
in this domain which is not its own 1 ' 

Bergsonians reply that the answer is that the 
intelligence to which they refer is not *the critical and 
discursive intelligence, guided by its own power . . . 
and enclosed in an inviolable circle. We are speaking of 
something quite different — that intelligence should take 
the risk of a plunge into the phosphorescent water 
around it, which is not altogether strange to reason 

» Le Roy : Ibid. 

"From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

since reason arose from it, and since it contains the 
powers complementary to understanding. The intelli- 
gence can therefore adapt itself, and will have been only 
lost for the moment, that it may become greater, 
stronger, and enriched.'^ 

To break through ' the inviolable circle * the intelli- 
gence must set aside its habitual methods of reasoning 
and give itself up to the magic power of intuition. 
Renewed, vivified, elated, and transformed by intuition, 
the intelligence will become a super-intelligence capable 
even of judging the results of intuition. 


The Bergsonian philosophy presents to criticism a 
method and a doctrine. 

Let us examine the method in the first place. 

According to Bergson the great philosophical prob- 
lems on life, the nature of being — and of the universe, 
lie outside Science, and their solution depends entirely 
on intuition. 

Intuition, as he understands it, is both instinctive 
inspiration and introspection. It admits of check by 
the intelligence, but only if super-intelligent, so to say 
— an intelligence exalted and vivified by intuition. 

This method alone admits of our going beyond 
known facts and scientific ideas. 

The first questions that arise are: — 

1. Is this Bergsonian * intuition * something new, 

and does it inaugurate a new method not 
previously published ? 

2. Must this method be specially retained for 

philosophy as philosophy specialises in this 
kind of method ? 

» Le Roy : lUd. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

The answers to these two propositions are by no 
means established. 

It is clear that all men of genius, all inventors, all 
the great minds which have added something new to 
human resources, were intuitive by nature. 

But intuition cannot be reserved to philosophy. It 
belongs to many departments of life — philosophical, 
artistic, industrial, and scientific. Science depends on 
intuition as much as on reasoning. The great scientific 
discoveries existed in the understanding of men of 
genius before being adapted to the facts and shown to 
be true. There is as much intuition in the genius of 
a Newton or a Pasteur, as in that of a great metaphysician. 

The distinction, and the only distinction, between 
philosophical and scientific method, is that men of 
science keep as much as possible within the limits of 
fact and take as their criterion concordance with facts 
or with rational inferences; whilst philosophers, although 
endeavouring to keep their intuitions in accord with 
facts, sometimes allow themselves to propose bold 
hypotheses which go beyond them. 

This, and no more, is exactly what Bergson has 

I know very well that some persons see in the 
* Bergsonian intuition * something heretofore unpub- 
lished to the world. I humbly avow that I do not 
comprehend the discussions which have arisen on this 
matter between the partisans and the antagonists of M. 
Bergson, and I even find them tedious. 

It is well to bring out clearly that this * new * method 
which consists in putting intuition in contrast with 
reason and in referring to the former the sole origin 
of philosophic truths, has previously been definitely 
claimed and severely criticised, just as it is to-day. 

* An endeavour is being made to smuggle 
palpable sophisms in place of proofs ; appeal is made 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

to intuition. . . . Thought, that is to say, reasoned 
knowledge, judicial deliberation, and sincere demon- 
stration — in a word the proper and normal use of 
reason — is disliked: a supreme contempt is pro- 
claimed for rational philosophy; meaning by that, 
all the series of linked and logical deductions which 
characterise the work of previous philosophers. 

* Then, when the dose of impudence is sufficient, 
and encouraged by the ignorance prevailing in these 
times, we shall soon hear something of this sort; 
** it is not difficult to understand that the * manner- 
ism ' which consists in enunciating a proposition, 
giving the reasons which support it and similarly 
refuting its antithesis, is not the form under which 
truth should be presented. Truth is the movement 
of itself by itself." ' 

By whom is this biting apostrophe } 

No doubt, it will be thought to be one of Mr 
Bergson's detractors, criticising the philosophy of 
* Duration.* . . . Not at all : it is Schopenhauer on 

But the question of the novelty and the originality 
of the Bergsonian * intuition * is a quite secondary matter. 
Let us, for the moment, admit the novelty and content 
ourselves with a valuation of the method by what it 
teaches us. Our iudgment will go by the results 

If it is demonstrated that the teachings of M. 
Bergson's are of value only within the limits within 
which they can be checked by facts; that when they 
go beyond facts they are insufficient or erroneous, that 
will suffice to prove that the * Bergsonian intuition * has 
no special validity. 

It will then be no longer permissible to contrast the 
intuitive to the scientific methods. It will be established 

^ Schopenhauer : Parerga et Paralipomena. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

(yet once more) that there is one only method of reaching 
truth, that which brings the results of intuition into 
accord with logic and the study of facts. This is the 
positive method which admits only rational inductions 
as valid. M. Bergson's teachings may be placed in 
three categories : — 

(a) Those which are in accord with facts, and are 

therefore within the limits of scientific method. 

(J?) Those which are not deduced from facts, and 

are undemonstrable. 
(c) Those which are opposed to well established 

facts, and are therefore erroneous. 
We will now examine these three categories. 



This is the teaching relating to the proof of evolu- 
tion as a general theory, and to the principle of the 
essential causality in evolution. 

The reality of transformism and the impossibility 
of explaining it by the classical factors of selection and 
adaptation are brought into full light by M. Bergson 
with flawless logic and an irresistible power of per- 
suasion. To those synthetic reasons which have been 
set forth in the earlier chapters of this work, he adds 
certain reasons of an analytical and special order, which 
will be found scattered here and there throughout 
his * Creative Evolution.* He finds new proofs of the 
impotence of the classical theories in the study of certain 
details of comparative anatomy, such as the eyes of some 
molluscs compared with those of the vertebrates. 

M. Bergson's analytical work is extremely con- 
scientious, and the reasoning on the facts before him 
is exact and rigorous. If it is not of a kind to convince 
the disciples of naturalism (for discussion may continue 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

indefinitely without reaching absolutely unanswerable 
conclusions), that is of little moment, since the synthetic 
study of evolution proves undeniably that the classical 
factors are secondary and there is some essential factor 
as yet unknown. 

The necessity for this essential factor, being some 
kind of internal creative impulse giving rise to the 
* vital surge ' is evident from the study of the facts. M. 
Bergson's teachings on this head, are strictly rational 
inferences which do not transgress the limits of scientific 
method. As such, and apart from other doctrines, they 
ensure a unique place to his philosophy in the higher 
walks of contemporary thought. 

The notion of the * vital surge ' may be seen, in 
germ, in some naturalistic systems such as Nageli's, 
and in ancient and modern pantheistic philosophies, 
but the special merit of the Bergsonian system consists 
in the rigorous application of this idea to the facts, and 
in a presentment which is truly a work of genius. 



These include the teaching on God, the non-existence 
of void, the nature of matter and spirit, the relations 
of consciousness to the organism, the independence 
of consciousness and matter, on human liberty, and on 
the hope of survival. 

All these are given without being based on facts, 
even when (as we shall see later) the facts are such as 
might be used partially to confirm the doctrines. The 
teaching on these points is of the intuitive order. There 
is no need to demonstrate their impotence. The classical 
physiological ideas which make consciousness dependent 
on the brain will never be upset by arguments drawn 
from the intuition. As long as the experimental idea of 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

a psycho-physiological parallelism subsists in modern 
science, all the beautiful reasoning of a spiritual kind 
or the highest idealist hopes (apart from an act of faith), 
will alike be entirely inoperative against them. 

M. Bergson's efforts to buttress intuitive arguments 
by ingenious similes will not do. He may compare 
evolution to a sheaf of rockets with God at its centre; 
intelligence to the ascending energy of the fireworks, 
and matter to the dead sticks falling back to earth; 
he may imagine many comparisons to make it understood 
how, in spite of a seeming psycho-physiological parallel- 
ism, consciousness is not limited by the organ of con- 
sciousness ... all these similes, however ingenious, 
can only give a superficial and fugitive satisfaction — they 
prove nothing. 

Not merely do they prove nothing, they are dangerous, 
because they bring errors in their train and give the 
illusion of proof to an investigation which is wanting 
in thoroughness. 

The chief error in the Bergsonian philosophy, an error 
which we shall presently expose — its anthropocentric 
concept — is probably due to the initial simile comparing 
evolution to a sheaf of diverging rockets. 


Besides these illusory or dangerous similes, M. 
Bergson's philosophy shows obvious contradictions and 
inexactitudes posing as a system. The contradictions 
are striking. 

M. Bergson makes out intuition to be a kind of 
dethroned instinct, a residue of the animal evolution. 
But he also makes it the basis of philosophic method; 
so much so, that, according to his system, Man, the 
privileged member of creation, can know truth only by 
the faculty which (again according to his system) 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

characterises animal evolution! Then, in order to 
palliate the insufficiency of the former idea, he makes it 
a superhuman faculty, which nevertheless, is still only 

He rejects the control of the intelligence in philoso- 
phical matters, but then finds himself obliged to have 
recourse to some kind of super-intelligence, different 
from intelligence itself. 

He contrasts intuition and intelligence, but by most 
subtle reasoning, endeavours to bring them into unity; 
he places the criterion of truth in the intuition controlled 
by intelligence which is at the same time vivified by 
the intuition; so that in the last analysis the intuition 
is both advocate and judge. 

He denies to logic the right to know that which 
deals with life and high philosophical problems, but 
in his work erudition and reasoning take a very pro- 
minent place. 

He invents a new metaphysical entity — * duration,' 
but it so happens that this entity is founded on that 
which is least certain, most subjective, and most relative 
to our understanding — the concept of time! 

The inexactitudes are yet more serious; through 
them M. Bergson's work leads to a vague idealism — an 
idealism which does not express itself frankly and 

Difficulties seem eluded rather than solved. The 
old contradictions are not reconciled by a higher synthesis, 
which, whether true or not, might at least be precise; 
they are (we must venture to say) subtilised under 
confused and plastic formulae. 

This quasi-systematic lack of preciseness causes the 
earnest reader of M. Bergson's work to feel a discomfort 
which neither his genius nor his skill can dispel. It is 
hard to know whether one perceives the truth through a 
mirage, or is simply the dupe of illusion and paradox. 
The impression that remains is that of a splendid but 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

phantasmal edifice, of gorgeous tapestries hiding an 
imperfect and defective structure whose foundations are 
insecure. We lie under the magic spell and fear to 
awake disillusioned. 

M. Gillouin^ says: * M. Bergson carries us along 
with him round and over all obstacles, with an ease 
which makes us think of some high intellectual school 
of thought.' Unfortunately it also makes us think of 
skilful sleight of hand. . . . 

The want of preciseness in Bergsonian philosophy 
makes it appear conformable, at least on a superficial 
survey, to the most opposite doctrines. It would be 
comical, were it not saddening, to see men who stand 
for the most opposed ideas placing themselves under 
M. Bergson's aegis. Deists -and pantheists, orthodox 
and theosophists, neo-occultists, and even it would seem 
neo-syndicalists 2 all invoke his authority. 

As for the philosophers, they are simply disconcerted 
by a system so pliable as, on the one hand, to allow of 
the assertion that ^ * whatever may be the deepest essential 
nature of things we are a part thereof* (which seems 
a profession of pantheist faith conformable to the general 
spirit of Bergsonian metaphysics); and, on the other 
hand, to affirm that the whole of this metaphysic 'presents 
the idea of a God freely creating both matter and life, 
whose creative work is continued by the evolution of 
species and by the constitution of human personalities,' 
and also, that * this work is the categorical refutation of 
both monism and pantheism ! ' * 


One of M. Bergson's principal doctrines is that the 
distinction between the animals and man is one of 
nature, not of degree. 

* Gillouin : La Philosophie de M. Bergson. ' * Idem. 
' Revue de Miiaphysique et de Morale, Nov. 191 1. 

* Etudes, 20th Feb., 1917. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

This distinction is not supported by any facts, and 
contradicts the most certain data of contemporary 

According to M. Bergson, the divergent lines of 
evolution have produced on the one hand, the animal 
instincts, and on the other, the human intelligence. 
Animal instinct has retained * fringes of intelligence,' 
and human intelligence has kept a residue of instinct. 
But instinct and intelligence are separated by an impas- 
sable abyss, and Man alone is the essential and superior 
product of evolution, while the vegetable and animal 
world are its residual products. 

This theory is profoundly distasteful to naturalistic 
philosophy which sees in it a return, whether sincere 
or disguised, to old anthropocentric ideas. If it were 
established on any positive data, it would profoundly 
disturb the whole evolutionary synthesis. 

But these data do not exist and M. Bergson's 
teaching rests on an omission fatal to his theory. The 
concept of Creative Evolution takes no account of sub- 
conscious psychism. 

The study of this subconscious psychism proves to 
the point of demonstration, as we shall see, the identity 
of the nature of animals and man. 

There is no need to seek to discover whether there 
are in animals more than fringes of intelligence; com- 
parative psychology is not sufficiently advanced to permit 
of this being established with any certainty. It will 
suffice to demonstrate that there is in man much more 
than residues of instinct; there is a vast subconscious 
domain which is instinct much more highly developed. 

To this domain belong the automatism of the main 
functions of life which are identical in animals and men ; 
the great instinctive impulses of self-preservation, repro- 
duction, etc., equally potent in animals and Man though 
frequently masked in the latter; and finally the higher 
active subconsciousness, of which animal instinct is 

i8i o 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

but the first manifestation, which has in human mental 
life a much larger field than that of the consciousness by 
which it is concealed from view. 

Subconscious psychology dominates human and 
animal life alike, and consciousness appears only as an 
acquisition growing with evolution and proportional to 
the level of that evolution. There is therefore no differ- 
ence in the essential nature of animals and man; from 
the psychic point of view both are governed by the 
subconscious. There is between them only a difference 
of degree, which is marked by the amount of conscious 

The demonstration of this truth is of capital import, 
for it involves the failure of one of the chief doctrines 
of the Bergsonian system, and therefore invalidates its 
whole method. 

This demonstration falls into three parts. 
{a) Animal instinct is but the first manifestation of 
unconscious psychism, and is of an inferior 
(b) Human subconsciousness is the animal instinct 
developed, expanded, and enriched by pro- 
gressive evolution. 
{c) The degree of conscious realisation in the animal 
and in man, and from the animal to man, is 
purely and simply a function ^ of the evolutionary 
level attained. 


Instinct, for the most part, obeys neither logic nor 
conscious reasoning, nor will. Its characteristics are 
those of human subconsciousness. It attains marvellous 

* ' Function ' : here used in the mathematical sense — a quantity 
whose changes of value depend on those of other quantities called its 
variables. — [Translator's note.] 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

results superior to those of intentional and conscious 
thought; and this is precisely the case with human 
subconsciousness. It is essentially mysterious, and 
follows no known psychological laws; just like human 
subconsciousness. Finally it is connected to the human 
subconsciousness by that supernormal psychology which 
at the present time must always be taken into account. 

In the manifestations of what is called accidental 
instinct a very marked and striking transition from 
instinctive subconsciousness properly so called, to super- 
normal subconsciousness may be observed. 

Guided by this accidental instinct, animals some- 
times behave with the certainty and lucidity which 
pertain to human somnambulism. 

Fabre cites the following instances from his own 

A cat was taken from the house where it had lived 
to quite the other side of the town of Avignon, without 
any means of seeing the road by which it had been 
conveyed. It escaped, and very shortly afterwards 
reached its old home, having traversed the town nearly 
in a straight line, taking no account of any obstacles 
not absolutely impassable. It had to pass through a 
labyrinth of populous streets and did not appear to 
notice any of the dangers of the way from boys and 
dogs. It swam the river Sorgue, ignoring the bridges, 
which did not happen to be just on its line: in short, 
it acted just as if in the somnambulic state. 

Another cat was taken by train from Orange to 
Serignan (over four miles). For the first few days it 
seemed to be getting used to its new abode, showing 
no tendency to escape. Then suddenly it showed an 
irresistible desire to return, and went back to its old 
home by the shortest line, crossing the river Aygues 
by swimming. 

Many analogous cases of dogs returning to their 
masters' house after long and intricate journeys have 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

often been reported. In these cases we touch what has 
been called * metapsychic phenomenology.* 

True supernormal manifestations, as well as hypnotic 
or somnambulic phenomena have been observed in 
animals. Some have strange premonitions; the 'death- 
howl * of a dog, once heard in tragic circumstances, can 
never be forgotten. I have myself heard it on more than 
one occasion, and have been vividly impressed by it. 

For instance, I was one night watching, in my medical 
capacity, by a young woman who, in the midst of health, 
had been stricken down that very day by mortal illness. 
She was dying, and the death rale was in her throat. 
The family was present, silent and deeply distressed. 
The time was i a.m. (She died at daybreak.) 

Suddenly from the garden which surrounded the 
house came the * death-howl * of the house-dog — a long, 
lugubrious wail on one note, at first loud then falling 
diminuendo slowly to a close. 

For some seconds there was silence, then the wail 
began again, as before. The dying woman had a gleam 
of consciousness and looked at us with an anxious expres- 
sion. She had understood. Her husband went out 
in haste to silence the dog. At his approach the dog 
fled and hid, and in the darkness it was impossible to 
find it. As soon as the man returned to the house the 
wails began again, and continued for more than an 
hour till the animal could be seized and taken away. 

Dr A. R. Wallace, and others have cited many 
cases of a metapsychic kind, still more mysterious, in 
which animals, especially dogs and horses, have been 
the agents. In this connection the case of the Elberfeld 
calculating horses may be mentioned; these have been 
observed and the facts verified by several men of science, 
among others Professor Clapar^de of Geneva. All 
agree in authenticating the facts. M. de Vesme^ has 
shown that the solutions (to mathematical questions 

^ Annates des Sciences Psychiques. 

Trom the Unconscious to the Conscious 

given by these horses) cannot be reasoned or conscious, 
but are of the metapsychic and subconscious order. I 
think it needless to insist on these and analogous facts 
known to all specialists of the subconscious. 

Von Hartmann has already pointed out the similarity 
between instincts and supernormal manifestations in the 
case of presentiments, second-sight, and clairvoyance. 
Instinct, he remarks, and the unconscious, intrude 
their results on consciousness in each case with the 
same suddenness and precision. 

To sum up, the final results of the analysis of animal 
instinct are, that it is of the subconscious order; that 
it is in essence the same as human subconsciousness; 
and that it is obviously only the first and lower manifes- 
tation of the subconscious psychism. 

If it occupies the whole, or what appears to be the 
whole, of the psychological field of the animal, that is 
merely because in the animal consciousness is as yet 


This law is the corollary of the last, and rests on 
the same arguments. All that essentially characterises 
human subconsciousness is found in animal instinct. 
M. Ribot says of inspiration that * primarily it is 
impersonal and involuntary, it acts like an instinct^ when 
and how it will.'* 

It only remains to show that all particulars in which 
subconsciousness is superior to instinct, can be simply 
explained by difference in the evolutionary level. For 
this demonstration we must refer the reader to Book II. 

We shall there show the processus by which the 

* Ribot : Psychologic des Sentiments. The italics are Dr Geley's. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

progressive enrichment of the subconscious has come 
about, and how the inspiration of genius, with its higher 
intuition and creative faculty, is visible and already 
outlined, in the animal instincts. 

It will be difficult for M. Bergson*s partisans to 
revolt against this law, since they admit that intuition 
is essentially instinctive. Intuition can be very much 
better understood as an expansion and enrichment of 
instinct, than by considering it as a residue of an animal 


The demonstration of this law also is deferred to 
Book II., but the importance of this demonstration is 
lessened by reason of the fact that the major portion 
of psychology, whether animal or human, is subconscious 
and essentially the same in both. From this it follows 
that the capital distinction between animal instinct and 
human intelligence which M. Bergson labours to 
establish loses all importance. 

Considering only the evolution of consciousness 
(taken separately), it obviously is merely a function of 
the evolutionary level, and equally obviously there is no 
impassable abyss between animal and human intelligence. 
It appears profoundly illogical and erroneous to say 
that there are in the animal only * fringes of intelligence.* 

From the lowest to the highest evolutionary types 
the conscious intelligence is observable as a develop- 
ment by stages. It is potential only in plants and in 
very inferior animals; sketched out in higher species; 
distinctly active in the highest animals, in which it 
begins to play an important part; still more distinct 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

and active in the lower grades of Humanity; and 
expanded and developed in the highest human types. 

It now only remains to draw a general conclusion 
from this study of M. Bergson's concepts as set forth 
in UEvolution Creatrice. 

Of all its doctrines the only ones which can stand 
criticism are those which are based on the study of 
facts or drawn by reasoned inference from the examina- 
tion of facts. These are the teaching on the primordial 
cause of evolution, on the insufficiency of the classical 
factors of selection and adaptation, and on the need for 
recognising an essential and creative vital impulse. 

The other doctrines, based on an alleged new notion 
of intuition, are either insufficient or inexact or, worse 
still, are contrary to the facts. 

Whatever may be thought of M. Bergson's method, 
and however great our admiration for his incomparable 
talent of exposition and his persuasive eloquence, we 
cannot find in the system of Creative Evolution a 
solution to the great enigma. The truths which that 
system contains are eclipsed by a proved error bearing 
on an essential point, an error which radically vitiates 
all his metaphysic. 



It has been shown that the principal error of M. Bergson's 
Creative Evolution and, generally, of his whole system, 
consists in his disregard of the psychology called sub- 
conscious or unconscious. 

We shall now examine a philosophy which, in 
contrast with M. Bergson's, is based on the unconscious. 

The expression, * The Philosophy of the Uncon- 
scious,* was invented by von Hartmann; but the 
foundation of that philosophy, the notion of a creative, 
immanent, and omnipresent unconsciousness belongs 
to all ages and all civilisations. 

The numerous metaphysical concepts of the human 
understanding on the nature of things come in the 
end to two classes, apparently contradictory; if indeed 
the contradiction is not really due to the limitations of 
our intellectual and intuitional faculties. 
, The one class admits a Creator and a creation, and 
understands the latter as the carrying out of the design 
of a sovereign and conscious will. These theories raise 
irreconcilable contradictions; such as the co-existence 
of providential foresight with the prevalence of evil; 
and of the soul of man as immortal but not eternal, 
having a beginning but no end. The other class places 
the Divine Idea in the universe itself; its theories seek 
to disentangle the one sole permanent divine essence 
from the infinite varieties of passing and ephemeral 

Those who belong to the latter class consider that 
the universe of matter, energy, and mind is made 
Mp of * representations ' or ' objectifications * of the 


Trom the Unconscious to the Conscious 

creative immanence, but that these do not necessarily 
proceed from a deliberately willed design, because 
consciousness does not appear as a primordial attribute 
of Unity. 

The One, the Real, as opposed to the many and the 
illusory, is the divine principle of the religions of 
India. It is the single principle of pantheism and 
Monism. It is the ' Idea ' of Plato, the * Active 
Intellect ' of Averroes, the Natura naturans ' of Spinoza, 
the ' Thing in Itself of Kant; it is the ' Will ' as under- 
stood by Schopenhauer, and it is the * Unconscious ' 
of von Hartmann. 


Until modern times this great, concept rested on 
intuition alone. It was of a metaphysical nature, and 
was consequently enmeshed in obscurities and contra- 

Only in our own day has it been more and more 
conformed to facts and has entered into the domain of 
scientific philosophy. It adapts itself to facts so well, 
that it is doubtless destined to reconcile the genius of 
the East and the West; to bring the highest truths 
within our reach; and to be the foundation and the 
framework of a structure both scientific and philo- 
sophical which will extend its shelter to all aspirations 
and ideals. 

Schopenhauer has the high merit of being the first 
who sought to adapt this system to facts. No doubt his 
system contains serious errors, referable to the insufii- 
cient biological and psychological data at his disposal; 
but by the clarity and precision of his mind and by the 
depth of his genius, his work deserves to be taken as 
the point of departure for every modern study on the 
nature of things. 


Vrom the Unconscious to the Conscious 

In order to understand the remainder of the present 
work, it is necessary that Schopenhauer's thesis should 
be kept in mind. 

But * The World as Will and Representation * 
cannot be given in a summary. It must be studied and 
meditated upon as it stands. The primary idea which 
reduces the innumerable appearances of things to one 
single, essential, and permanent principle, cannot be 
detached from its intuitive and logical demonstration 
and its development by a masterly inspiration; in 
a word, from the magical framework in which this great 
philosopher has set it. This framework is necessary 
to the comprehension of its power and to the manifesta- 
tion of its value and beauty. 

An analytical summary is, however, indispensable, 
as I am well aware. I must, however, beg the instructed 
reader to pardon its inevitable insufficiency, and to 
excuse what seems to me like a profanation. 

Schopenhauer's system does not claim to explain 
everything. He declares that certain questions of high 
metaphysics, such as the beginning and end of things, 
are incapable of complete solution. He does not ask 
whence came this world nor how it will end. He only 
inquires what it is. 

To him the world is at once will and representation ; 
a real will and an illusory and factitious representation. 

Why does he select the designation of * Will * to 
describe the real essence of things .'' Because Will — 

* is something that we know directly; something 
that we know and understand better than anything 
else . . , the concept of Will is the only one among 
all known concepts which does not take its rise 
from phenomena and intuitive representations, but 
comes from the depths of the individual conscious- 
ness which recognises itself essentially, directly, 
without any forms, even of subject and object, seeing 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

that here that which knows and that which is known 

Will is the sole thing which really exists. It is the 
Divine Absolute. It is one, indestructible, eternal, 
outside Space and Time. It implies neither individual- 
isation, nor beginning, nor end, nor origin, nor 

Will, in objectifying itself produces the diverse and 
innumerable appearances of things. * In the multiplicity 
of phenomena which fill the world, which co-exist or 
succeed one another as the succession of events, it is 
Will only that is manifested. All these phenomena do 
but make it visible and objective; it remains immovable 
in the midst of all these variations. It is the Thing in 
Itself; and, to take the words of Kant, every object is 
manifestation and phenomenon.' ^ 

Will is primitively and essentially unconscious. It 
needs no motives for action. We see it active in animals; 
active without any kind of knowledge, under the im- 
pulsion of blind instinct. In man, Will is unconscious 
in all the organic functions, indigestion, secretion, 
growth, reproduction, and all vital processes. * It is 
not only the actions of the body, it is the whole body 
itself which is the phenomenal expression of Will, it is Will 
objectified and become concrete; therefore everything 
which happens in it must have emerged from Will; and 
here, however, this will is not guided by consciousness 
nor regulated by motives; it acts blindly . . .' 

Will shows itself as unconscious in the vast majority 
of its representations; in the whole inorganic world, in 
the plant-world, and in nearly the whole animal world. 

That which we call consciousness has nothing in 
itself of an essential nature. It does not belong insepar- 
ably to will. It is but a temporary realisation, ephemeral 
and vain. 

^ The World as Will and Representation. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

* Will, without intelligence (and in itself it is 
no other), blind, irresistible, as we see it in the 
inorganic and in the vegetable world and in their 
laws; as we see it also in the vegetative life of our 
own bodies, this Will, I say, thanks to the objectified 
world which lies open to it and develops in order 
to serve it, comes to know that it desires, and what 
it desires; and this is the world as it is, it is life 
as realised in the world.* 

But this limited consciousness which the will thus 
acquires is still more ephemeral, and does not overstep 
the temporary boundaries of individualisation. It is 
only whilst individualisation lasts that it has a part to 
play, and this part is only to substitute an intentional 
and limited activity for its unconsidered and boundless 

It is therefore necessary to distinguish accurately 
between the unconscious will and its conscious expres- 
sion. That which is really superior in man, his eternal 
essence, his genius, his inspiration, his creative power, 
all these are impersonal, all belong to the unconscious^ 

The domain of consciousness, created by the objecti^ 
fication of the attributes of the will, attaches to the 
cerebral psychism only. Consciousness in the higher 
animals and man is bound to their organic representa- 
tion, it is born and dies with it. 

Death brings it to annihilation. As a set-off, thai 
which is the essence of Being, the Will, is not affected. 

* When we lose intellect by death, we are thereby 
carried back into the primitive state, devoid of 
knowledge, but not absolutely unconscious. It is 
doubtless rather a state superior to the state of 
unconsciousness, in which the distinction between 
subject and object disappears. . , . 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

* Death shows itself openly as the end of the 
individual; but in this individual there is the germ 
of a new being. Therefore nothing that dies in it, 
dies for ever; but nothing that is born receives an 
essentially new existence. That which dies, perishes ; 
but a germ remains whence arises a new life which 
enters on existence without knowing whence it 
comes, nor why it is what it is. This is the mystery 
of palingenesis (re-birth). 

* The human being may therefore be considered 
from either of two opposite points of view. From 
the first he is an individual beginning and ending 
in Time, a transitory phenomenon. . . . From the 
other he is the original indestructible being which is 
objectified in every existing person. No doubt such 
a being could do better than manifest himself in a 
world like this — a finite world of suffering and 
death. That which is in him and proceeds from 
him must end and die. But that which never leaves 
him nor desires to leave him goes through him like 
a lightning stroke and then knows neither Time 
nor Death.' ^ 

Thus, then, the individual consciousness, like the 
universe, has no real and proper existence. It is a 
temporary function of will. It is born of the will to live. 

And the will to live is the consequence of an unfor- 
tunate illusion of the will. 


This pessimism, which is expressed in pages of great 
eloquence, follows with rigorous logic on his premises. 

If individualisation and consciousness are but passing 
illusions soon to disappear, all effort, troubles, and 
sufferings end in nothing. The injustices endured are 

* Schopenhauer : Religion. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

without compensations. Life is objectless. The hopes 
of religion are absurd, since, apart from their dogmatic 
difficulties, they are all based on the insensate concept that 
the individual soul, a thing which had a beginning, 
should nevertheless have no ending. 

There is therefore no hope, neither in a future world, 
nor in this present one. 

The will to live does but engender effort without 
a goal and suffering without result. 

* In considering inanimate nature we have already 
recognised as its inmost essence continuous, object- 
less, reposeless effort; but in animals and man the 
same truth is even more obvious. For every act 
of willing starts from a need, from a lack, and there- 
fore from a pain ; it is therefore a necessity of nature 
that the creatures should be a prey to pain. But 
when will comes to have no object, when prompt 
satisfaction removes all motive for desire, they fall 
into emptiness and weariness; their nature, their 
mere existence weighs on them intolerably. Life 
then, swings like a pendulum from right to left, 
from suffering to weariness: and, in fine, these are 
the two elements of which life is composed. Hence 
comes a very significant fact, the more significant 
by its strangeness — man, having placed all pain 
and misery in hell, has found nothing to put in 
heaven but monotony! 

* Now this incessant effort, which is fundamental 
to all forms which Will puts on, finds at last, at the 
top of the scale of its objective manifestations, its 
real general principle; there Will is revealed to 
itself in a living body which imposes an iron law 
— to provide it with nourishment; and that which 
enforces this law is just the will to live, incarnate. 
. . . Add a second need, which the first brings in 
its train, that of perpetuating the species. At the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

same time unending perils assail man from all sides, 
perils from which he escapes only by perpetual 
watchfulness. . . . 

* For the most part, life is but a continuous 
struggle for mere existence, with the certainty of 
being defeated in the end. . , . Life is a sea full 
of reefs and perils; man, by dint of care and prudence 
avoids them, but knows all the while that his success 
in steering between them by skill and energy does 
but bring him nearer to the great total and final 
shipwreck, for he cannot escape death.* 

Efforts, sufferings, and death! It is of these only 
that will acquires knowledge, and it is for these that 
after having * affirmed itself,' it comes to negation. 
This is the fruit of individual existence. 

* What a difference,* exclaims Schopenhauer, 
* between our beginning and our end. Its opening 
scenes are characterised by the illusions of desire and 
the transports of voluptuousness; its close by the 
destruction of all our members and the odour of 
the grave! The road that separates these is a 
descending slope of lessening happiness and well- 
being : the happy dreams of childhood, the gaiety of 
youth, the work of manhood, the decrepitude of 
age, the tortures of the last illness and the final 
struggle with death! * 

The pessimism of Schopenhauer is not only the 
logical consequence of his philosophic premises; it is 
founded also on a clear insight into life. This insight 
fills him with an immense pity: pity for the animals 
which, when they are not devoured by each other, suffer 
untold miseries in ' a hell where men are the demons 1 * 
Pity for men, whom the will to live leads to trouble and 
sufferings not compensated for by sparse pleasures 
which are mostly illusory. 

How, too, should man take pleasure in these brief 


From the TJnconsctous to the Conscious 

joys when he has attained consciousness of his essential 
identity with a world in which evil reigns supreme? 
How should he not suffer in sympathy with the vast and 
general pain ? 

How is it that he does not understand that the will 
to live is a misfortune, and should be annulled by the 
abdication of desire and by renunciation of the illusory 
motives with which intelligence rocks itself to sleep, 
in order to find a sufficient reason for living ? It is 
only by attaining to this, that the reason for life and 
suffering can be understood. 

The sufferings of animals are explained * by the 
fact that the will to live, finding absolutely nothing 
beyond itself in the world of phenomena, and being a 
famished will, must devour its own flesh.' For the 
higher consciousness of man * the value of life consists 
entirely in learning not to desire it.' Existence is 
nothing but a kind of aberration of which a better 
knowledge of the world should cure us. 


Von Hartmann has taken up Schopenhauer's thesis, 
adding thereto certain data derived from the natural 
sciences and psychology. 

Besides and above the causes admitted by the 
mechanical concept of nature, he finds a superior principle 
which he calls the Unconscious. The Unconscious 
is that which is essential and Divine in the universe. 
In it will and representation exist potentially. Every- 
thing therefore that comes into realisation does so by 
the will of the unconscious. 

In evolution the unconscious plays the primary part: 
natural selection does not explain the origin of new 
forms : it is but a means, one of the means by which the 
unconscious attains its ends. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

The unconscious has the predominant part in the 
vital phenomena of the individual; in it is the essence 
of life; it forms the organism and maintains it, repairs 
internal and external injuries, and is the ultimate guide 
of its movements. 

It plays an essential part in psychological phenomena. 
It is the source of instincts, of intuition, of the aesthetic 
sense, and of creative genius. 

Finally, the unconscious is the basis of ' supernormal 
phenomenology,' which is a mere manifestation of its 
divine power, independent of contingencies relating to 
time, space, psychological, dynamic, and material repre- 

For Von Hartmann, as for Schopenhauer, there is an 
abyss between the unconscious and the conscious. 

The former is divine, and the latter purely human. 

Nevertheless, consciousness (when sufficiently 
developed) permits us to pass judgment on the universe 
and on life. And this judgment is not favourable. 
As consciousness is both ephemeral and unproductive, 
it cannot participate in the divine infinite. 

It suffers from a limitation without compensations 
and without hope, from many painful contingencies, 
more painful in proportion to its degree of development, 
in individual existence. Its last resource would be self- 
extinction; but perhaps even this sacrifice would be 
useless, as the indestructible unconscious creator would 
no doubt recommence another evolution destined to end 
in the same conscious realisation with the same desolating 



Two things strike one at the outset in the systems 
of Schopenhauer and von Hartmann, in the first place 
the clarity of the reasoning and its quasi-scientific rigour; 

197 p 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

in the second, the pessimistic conclusions which seem to 
flow naturally and of necessity from it. 

This conclusion does, in fact, necessarily follow if 
it be admitted, as Schopenhauer and von Hartmann 
maintain, that there is an impassable abyss and an 
essential difference between the unconscious and the 

This essential difference takes away all ideal purpose 
and all meaning from the universe and from life. 

And while the other postulates of the German 
philosophers are deduced with mathematical precision, 
the alleged essential difference between the unconscious 
and the conscious rests on nothing. 

The assimilation of consciousness to a mere * repre- 
sentation * is not logical. 

Why should consciousness be exclusively bound to 
the temporary semblances which make up the universe ? 

Why should not all that falls within its domain be 
registered, assimilated, and preserved by the eternal 
essence of being } 

What! The divine principle, the will or the 
unconscious, is to be allowed all potentialities except 
one, and that the most important of all — the power to 
acquire and retain the knowledge of itself. 

How much more logical it is to presume that this 
real and eternal will which is objectified in transitory 
and factitious personalities, will keep integrally the 
remembrances acquired during these objectifications, 
thus by numberless experiences passing from primitive 
unconsciousness to consciousness. 

Certainly the human personality which covers the 
period from birth to death of the body is destined to 
perish and to have an end as it had a beginning; but 
the real * individuality,' that which is the essential being, 
keeps and assimilates to itself, deeply graven in its 
memory, all states of consciousness of the transitory 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

When, conformably to the paHngenesis of which 
Schopenhauer speaks, it builds up another living per- 
sonality, it brings to the latter all its permanent gains, 
and is further enriched by those of the new objectification. 

It is thus that the will, originally unconscious, 
becomes a conscious will. 

It is curious to note that Schelling and Hegel, whose 
systems preceded those of Schopenhauer and von 
Hartmann, but are much less precise, had nevertheless 
declared this progress from the unconscious to the 
conscious and had drawn idealist and optimist conclusions 
from it. The metaphysics of the two last-named 
philosophers though more precise and better supported 
from the scientific point of view, show an unfortunate 
regression regarded from the idealist standpoint. 

Schelling's universe is the result of an * activity * 
essentially unconscious. This activity becomes at least 
partially self-conscious in man. 

For Hegel the essential unconscious activity, how- 
ever, possesses some kind of reason. The creation which 
it brings into existence is rational, and we may find 
in evolution and the progress it implies, some 
reasonable finality. Thus reason gradually grows 
into consciousness. Evolution is the means which 
the universal and creative reason uses to acquire self- 

No positive objection can be taken to this concept, 
but that does not suffice for its acceptance ; it is necessary 
to co-ordinate it with facts. 

In the light of the new facts the errors, the contra- 
dictions, and the lacunae, as well as the heartrending 
pessimism, all disappear. These new facts and the 
inferences they carry with them, allow us to replace the 
Philosophy of the Unconscious which, though marred 
by these errors and omissions, is a truly great work of 
genius, by another, similar indeed in its premises and 
its essence, but leading by a different development to 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

conclusions quite other than the pessimism of Schopen- 

Different in its development, because it takes note 
of all the available facts, and conforming strictly to 
reason while avoiding dogmatic assertion, it assigns a 
place to all that can be explained, and to that which 
necessarily transcends our powers of understanding and 

Different in its conclusions, which are diametrically 
opposed to Schopenhauer's distressing pessimism, because 
it fills in the artificial chasm which he has made between 
the unconscious and the conscious. 





We can now attempt to outline a general theory of 
collective and individual evolution based on all facts 
at present known, whether of the naturalistic or the 
psychological order, and on the deductions they involve. 
We shall also draw certain inferences that are strictly 
dependent on the facts. 

We shall put aside, systematically, everything which 
pertains to pure metaphysics: the question of God, of 
the Infinite, of the Absolute, of beginning and end, and 
of the essential nature of things. 

We shall consider only what it is permitted to us 
to know and understand on the destiny of the world and 
of the individual according to the degree of intuitive 
and intellectual faculty which evolution has actually 

This is relatively little, but it is much more than 
the classical naturalistic philosophy teaches. 

It is henceforward possible to understand the 
mechanism and the general trend of collective and 
individual evolution; the degree to which individual 
consciousness is dependent on, or independent of, the 
material organism; and the * wherefore * of Life. 

When these notions are clearly established they 
carry with them a lesson of idealism which is no longer 
vague, but precise, and is based, not on an act of faith, 
nor on a supposed * intuition,* but on an estimate of 

The preliminary limitation which we have here laid 
down, is not founded on the old and obsolete distinction 
between ' the knowable and the unknowable,' but only 
on the verification of the relative incapacity of our 
actual powers of knowing and understanding. 



Strictly speaking, there is nothing that is unknowable. 
That which is called the region of the unknowable is 
continually being lessened as evolution proceeds. The 
simplest metereological laws were unknowable to our 
cave-dwelling ancestors; the laws of gravitation, the 
physical constitution of the stars, and the origin of animal 
species were unknowable before the development of 
modern science. It must be the same for the great 
laws of life and destiny, whether of the universe or of 
the individual. 

As for the problems which are necessarily still above 
all attempts at explanation, they can be resolutely and 
systematically put aside; they will constitute the philos- 
ophy of a more highly and ideally evolved humanity. 

The sacrifice which modern scientific philosophy 
makes in thus limiting its aims to that which falls within 
the bounds of reason, has great compensating advantages. 

To begin with, this sacrifice, resolutely and courage- 
ously accepted, clears out of bur way those two stones 
of stumbling — ^mysticism and despondency — ^which en- 
cumber the path of idealism. The thinker will avoid 
mysticism, for he will be able to avoid that intoxication 
of the personal imagination which is always most 
luxuriant when dealing with the subliminal. He will 
be released from ancient and modern forms of dogmatism, 
and will no longer look for a Messiah or a Magus to 
guide him, nor yield to the puerile attractions of so-called 
initiations into occult mysteries. 

He will be saved from despondency, and will not 
be led to say, like Herbert Spencer, who has paraphrased 
and extended a celebrated dictum of Pascal : — 

* Then comes the thought of this universal matrix, 
itself anteceding alike creation or evolution, whichever 
be assumed, and infinitely transcending both, alike in 
extent and duration; since both, if conceived at all, 
must be conceived as having had beginnings, while 



Space had no beginning. The thought of this blank 
form of existence which, explored in all directions as 
far as imagination can reach, has, beyond that, an 
unexplored region compared with which the part which 
imagination has traversed is but infinitesimal — ^the 
thought of a Space compared with which our immeasur- 
able sidereal system dwindles to a point, is a thought 
too overwhelming to be dwelt upon. Of late years 
the consciousness that without origin or cause infinite 
Space has ever existed and must ever exist, produces 
in me a feeling from which I must shrink.' ^ 

The mental vertigo produced by consideration of 
the Infinite and the Absolute does not affect the philoso- 
pher who has clearly recognised the actual limitations 
of his work. On the contrary, he finds serenity of mind 
in resignation to these limitations, and to the wholesome 
and fruitful discipline which they impose upon him. 
This sacrifice has also the supreme advantage of ruling 
out all those vain and pretentious discussions, the sterile 
formulae and contradictory systems, by which the highest 
minds have entered the lists against each other. All 
such systems have now only a historical or a literary 

This resignation to the actual limitations of 
human intelligence enables him to dispense altogether 
with metaphysical entities — * the Thing in Itself,' ' non- 
Being,* ' Will,* * the Unconscious,' * Duration,* etc., 
etc. — which in the end are but empty words. 

For these factitious entities and pure abstractions 
we propose to substitute a concrete thing — ^the notion 
of an essential concrete dynamo-psychism, which can 
be verified as a reality, even though its metaphysical 
nature cannot be formulated, and though research into 
its metaphysical essence may even be inadvisable. 

To this concept, the objection will at once be made 

* Herbert Spencer : Facts and Comments (1902. Ultiinate Questions). 



that this essential dynamo-psychism, by the very fact 
that it is something concrete and conceivable and that 
we can in a measure understand it, is no longer the 
thing in itself, abstracted from all representation, which 
is, as Kant finally proved, essentially inconceivable. 

We reply that the same objection can be raised 
against all systems based on the distinction between the 
divine essence of the universe and its phenomenal 
manifestations. Schopenhauer thought to elude this 
difficulty by making the Thing in Itself a * Will ' 
unconscious of itself, having neither substratum nor cause 
nor end, because it is * outside the realm of pure reason.* 
Thus deprived of all attributes the * Will,' which knows 
not what it wills, nor how, nor why it wills, nor even 
the fact of its willing, is an abstraction as inconceivable 
as the * Thing in Itself.* 

Hartmann's Unconscious is more conceivable simply 
because our understanding naturally, spontaneously, and 
necessarily, attributes to the unconscious a concrete 
substratxmi, and makes of it the very thing that we 
here unequivocally advance — an unconscious dynamo- 

This dynamo-psychism also is, if we will have it 
so, a * representation,* but it is the only means by which 
we can understand * the nature of things.' For a relative 
intelligence to endeavour to understand the Absolute 
is, we must always remember, to limit the Absolute. 

What does it matter that the thing in itself should be 
inaccessible to us } We can at least reach it under a 
first limitation. Under the immeasurable variety of 
transitory and phenomenal appearances which constitute 
the physical, dynamic, and intellectual universe, there 
is one essential, permanent, and real dynamo-psychism. 
Its immanent activity is revealed to us in the immense 
series of facts which evolution presents ; and Evolution 
itself is, as we shall see, nothing else than the transition 
from unconsciousness to consciousness. 



The two bases and primordial postulates of the 
philosophy which this second part of our work will 
set forth and sustain, are the following: — 

1. That which is essential in the universe and the 

individual is a single * dynamo-psychism * primi- 
tively unconscious but having in itself all 
potentialities, the innumerable and diverse 
appearances of things being always its repre- 

2. The essential and creative dynamo-psychism 

passes by evolution from unconsciousness to 

These two propositions rest on facts. They can 
to-day be made subjects of exact demonstration, first 
in the individual, and can then, by an extended induction 
be referred to the universe. 










Our physiological study of the individual, starting from 
all known facts, has demonstrated the distinction between 
his essential and real dynamo-psychism and its visible 

We have established by those facts, the illusory 
nature of the appearances on which the general concept 
of classical physiology is built — the concept of the 
living being as a simple cellular complex, organising 
itself by means of specifically distinct tissues, and having 
in itself the reason for its being, its origin, and its end, 
the cause for its form, its mechanism, and its functions; 
all these properties arising only by heredity from 
generative cells. 

At the outset we have shown that it is not possible 
to find the cause of specific form, nor the origin, the 
essential cause, nor the purposes of its different modes 
of activity, either in the organism itself or in the fact of 
its cellular association. 

We have been obliged to admit that the corporeal 
form is but a temporary illusion ; that organs and tissues 
have no absolute specificity; that these organs and 
tissues, even though proceeding from the single prim- 
ordial substance of the ovum, can even in this life be 
disintegrated into a unique primordial substance, which 

^ The whole of this and succeeding chapters are closely connected 
with the physiological and psychological demonstrations of Book I. 
They will not be understood apart from this connection. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

can then reorganise itself into new and distinct forms 
and build up temporarily different and distinct organs 
and tissues.^ 

In a word, we have been compelled to surrender to 
the evidence, that the body, the organic complex, has 
neither definitive and absolute qualities nor a specificity 
proper to itself. Its origin, its development, its embryonic 
and post-embryonic metamorphoses, its normal functions 
and supernormal potentialities, the maintenance of its 
normal form, and the possibilities of metapsychic 
dematerialisation and re-materialisations, all show that 
this organism is separable from a superior dynamism 
which conditions it. 

It no longer appears as the whole individual, but as 
an ideoplastic product of that which is essential in the 
individual — a dynamo-psychism which conditions all, 
and essentially is all. 

In philosophic language, the organism is not the 
individual; it is but his representation. 

By this concept all the physiology of the physical 
being and all its normal or so-called supernormal 
capacities can be understood; whereas, without this 
concept the most familiar organic functions and the 
most unexpected phenomena of mediumship are alike 

In reality there is neither normal nor supernormal 
physiology. All is limited by representations; some 
usual, some exceptional, both equally conditioned by the 
essential dynamo-psychism which is the reality. If 
embryonic metamorphoses and the histolysis of the 
insect seem to us mysterious ; if the interpenetration of 
solid matter by other solid matter, and organic materiali- 
sations and dematerialisations seem impossible, this is 
only because we attribute final reality to the characteristics 
and properties by which we represent matter to our- 
selves. If, on the contrary, we understand that these 

» Vide Part I., Chapter II. 

Vrom the Unconscious to the Conscious 

characteristics and properties are factitious and unreal, the 
mystery and the impossibility disappear; or become 
merely correlatives of our ignorance and weakness. 
The changes presented by both normal and supernormal 
physiology have no other philosophical meaning than 
changes in the external appearance of things. The 
causality which makes them what they are, and the 
explanation by which they are understood, lie in the 
dynamo-psychism which conditions them. 

What is true in this matter from the physiological 
point of view, is even more decisively true from the 
psychological standpoint : the supernormal only becomes 
comprehensible when we distinguish the essential 
dynamo-psychism from its representations. In order 
to conceive of the possibility of action from mind to 
mind it is necessary first to admit the reality of a superior 
psychic mechanism (psychism) detached from the usual 
contingencies which pertain to psychological representa- 

In order that vision at a distance beyond the range 
of the senses, or the lucidity which presents the past, 
the present, or the future, may no longer seem incredible 
miracles, it is indispensable that we should first under- 
stand that time and space are but the means of our 
representations and are as artificial and illusory as the 
representations themselves. 

Thus the concept, which has found its best expression 
in the works of Schopenhauer,^ must henceforth quit 
the realm of metaphysics for that of science. 

That which is real and permanent in the individual, 
which Schopenhauer called Will, we designate as 
essential dynamo-psychism, and the distinction between 
this and its temporary representations is founded on 
facts. At least everything occurs as if this were so. 

* Schopenhauer had ahready seen the importance of the phenomena 
known as supernormal to his metaphysical scheme. (Parerga and 

SZ3 Q 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

We can now make a step forward in our search 
for truth; and, keeping steadily to facts and within 
the limits of the possible, we can distinguish that which 
belongs to the essential dynamo-psychism in the individual 
from that which pertains to its representation. 


Schopenhauer, adopting the biological ideas then 
current, laid down a very simple concept of individuality. 
Apart from his metaphysical theory, his concept was 
in accord with the materialist thesis which taught that 
the organism is the individual. To this Schopenhauer 
added that * the individual is Will objectified in an 
organism * ; and he regarded the organism as the unique 
individual representation of that will. For Schopen- 
hauer, as for the materialistic physiologists, the organism 
— that unique representation — contains within itself all 
manifestations of individual activity, and these remain 
strictly within the limits of time and space which 
condition the body. They are born and die with the 
individual, and cannot transcend the range of his 
physical and sensorial capacities. His psychism is the 
pure and simple product of the activity of his nerve- 
centres. The consciousness that belongs to him is a 
function of that activity. All the attributes of the 
individual are passing and ephemeral attributes created 
by the objectification of * will * in an organised 

This concept of Schopenhauer's was in agreement 
with the biological knowledge of his day. It is so no 
longer. The facts now known traverse this simple aspect 
of the individual; they prove that individual activity 
may surpass the limits and the framework of the organism. 
They prove, in philosophic language, that there are 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

in the individual * representations * of the creative 
dynamo-psychism which differ from the organism itself, 
are superior to that organism and condition it, in place 
of being conditioned by it. 

In fact, as we shall show, everything occurs as if 
the essential dynamo-psychism objectified itself to create 
the individual, not in one unique representation — the 
organism — but in a series of graded representations 
successively conditioning one another. 

In treating of physiology we have seen that the 
organism is directed by an organising, directing, and 
centralising dynamism able to act outside the organism, 
to disintegrate it and reconstitute it in new and distinct 
forms. Therefore we can, and should, conclude that 
the organic representation is itself conditioned by a 
higher representation — the vital dynamism.^ 

Physiology, considered by itself alone, does not 
admit of any other inference. 

But the study of the psychology of the individual 
allows of new and larger ideas. 

These ideas may be summed up as follows. 

The semblances, according to which the psycho- 
logical individuality would seem to be merely the sum 
of the consciousness of its neurons and its cerebral 
psychism, are false. 

In reality the cerebral psychism, like that of the 
whole organism, has its origin, its ends, and its most 
intimate conditions of function, in a superior dynamo- 
psychism, which is, for the most part, subconscious. It 
has been demonstrated that in the psychological indi- 
viduality there is a superior psychism independent of the 
functioning of the nerve-centres and free of all organic 
contingencies, and that this superior psychism forms 
the very foundation of the living being; it centralises 
and directs the psychic whole; it binds together all 

1 Schopenhauer admitted the existence of a 'vital force' but he did 
not make it a distinct and superior objectifiication. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

present states of consciousness by an activity, which is 
immanent though mostly latent, and links them to the 
past by its cryptic memory; in fine, it possesses the 
so-called supernormal faculties. 

If we would express the new psycho-physiological 
<^oncept in philosophical terms, we must say that the 
organic representation, far from constituting the whole 
individual, is only the lower and coarser objectification of 
his essential dynamo-psychism. Above the organic 
representation (i.e. the organism) and conditioning it, is 
a superior representation — the * vital dynamism.' Above 
the representations known as the * organism * and the 
* vital dynamism * there is a third and yet higher repre- 
sentation belonging to the mental order. 

These concepts are not new. Pythagoras and 
Aristotle distinguished between the body and the vital 
dynamism which they called the psych ^, and between 
the psyche and the mental dynamo-psychism which they 
called the Nous. Similarly animists and spiritualists of 
the old school admitted analogous categories. But 
there is a great difference between the old and the new 
ideas. In the first place the new idea is based on facts 
and demonstrated by facts. As we shall see more clearly 
in the sequel, it rests also upon reasoning — everything 
occurs as though things were thus. 

Then further, the new idea does not imply differences 
of essence between the body, the vital dynamism, and 
the mental dynamo-psychism. All are graded representa- 
tions of the same essential principle. Their differences 
are only in degree of evolution, of activity, and of 

But this cannot be fully understood till we have 
completed our study of the Self. Let us therefore put 
aside for the moment the analysis of the representations, 
and pass on to the investigation of the Self considered 
as essentially a dynamo-psychism. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 



Is the Self distinct from its representations ? Where 
is the Self apart from its representations ? Until now 
the answers to these questions could only be of a meta- 
physical nature. 

Let us consult the facts alone and see what they 
tell us. 

Taking into account only facts the question takes 
shape as follows. 

Is the Self, as taught by classical psychology, the 
sum of the states of consciousness, or is it separable ? 
Can it be conceived of as separate from those states of 
consciousness } 

We shall see that the answer is not in doubt — the 
Self is not to be confused with states of consciousness. 
But a certain effort is needful before this can be under- 
stood. We can admit without much difficulty that the 
Self cannot be identified with the material body, but 
it is much more difficult not to identify it with the 
mentality. It is much less easy to distinguish oneself 
from the mental, than from the organic representation. 
This can be done only by modifying our habitual and 
inveterate intellectual habits, and by applying the whole 
power of reason to get beyond the Cartesian axiom — 
* I think, therefore I am,' and to admit another — * I 
am, even apart from my thoughts; they represent me, 
but my mental representations are not the whole of 

Nevertheless facts prove that nothing is more certain. 
The induction is exact : if the Self were but the sum of 
states of consciousness it would be incomprehensible 
how, these states of consciousness being intact, the 
Self, which is by the hypothesis their synthesis, could 
lose that which is most essential and important — the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

notion of its unity and the possibility of control over 
the psychic whole. Now it is a commonplace fact that 
this integrity of states of consciousness coexists with 
the disappearance of the synthetic unity and the central- 
ising directive power. 

The diminution or the disappearance of control 
by the Self is the fundamental fact in all supernormal 
psychology and of all the psychological anomalies which 
nevertheless coexist with the unimpaired anatomo- 
physiological condition of the nerve-centres. 

Whether we consider a pure neurosis such as hysteria, 
or insanity, or double personality, or mediumship, the 
first fact observed is always the disappearance of the 
control and centralising direction of the Self. In hysteri- 
form disturbances and in dementia, the states of con- 
sciousness are intact and remain so for long periods; 
the faculties, taken separately, are not affected — memory, 
imagination, feelings, etc. . . . are the same, but the 
central direction is replaced by anarchy or polyarchy. 

In hypnosis, double personality and mediumship, 
we find that faculties and knowledge, and the most varied 
states of consciousness — in fact all the mental sequences 
— persist integrally. But here also the habitual central 
direction by the Self has disappeared and is replaced 
by a heterogeneous direction. In a word, the states 
of consciousness, faculties, and knowledge can be 
dissociated and separated from that which is essential 
in the Self — the consciousness of its unity and reality. 

Therefore the Self is distinct from the constituent 
states which represent it. 

The most typical phenomenon from this point of 
view is that of alterations of personality. These modi- 
fications of the personality prove two things : — 

I. The existence of mental groups of stratification, 
as Jastrow^ puts it, constituting as many 
subconscious formations. 

* Jastrow : La Subconscience. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

2. The existence of a centralising psychic direction 
of these mental groups, since it is precisely the 
failure and the want of this central direction 
that is the basis and sine qua non for alter- 
ations of personality and for the appearance of 
secondary states. 

Jastrow says, * When the dominant Self abandons 
any considerable part of its sovereignty, it may be that 
the organised activities are freed.* ... It is then seen 
that * the altered Self maintains relations so special, so 
incomplete, and so indirect, with the normal Self, that 
we must admit that the mind is dissociated. The psychic 
autocracy is overthrown and gives place to an enfeebled 
rule exercising power over a reduced area.^ * 

To sum up : The real Self conditions and directs the 
mental dynamo-psychism. 

Therefore that which is essential in the Self must 
not be confounded with subordinate and secondary 
states of consciousness. 

As in the organism, so in the mentality the per- 
manent essence must be distinguished from temporary 
' representations.' The states of consciousness are but 
representations of the Self. But the Self — an individual- 
ised portion of the universal dynamo-psychism — cannot 
be confounded with its representations. 

Moreover, there is a further proof of this assertion. 
Facts show that there are in the Self capacities which 
outrange the limits of states of consciousness and 
dominate all its representations. 

Intuition and creative genius very greatly transcend 
the intellectual faculties. In these there is nothing like 
the linked sequences which mark logical deductions, 
they are superior faculties, deriving evidently from the 
divine essence of the Self. 

Still more obviously the supernormal psychic faculties, 
and more especially lucidity (which is independent 

2 Italics are mine, G. G. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

of all contingencies) cannot be attributed to the 

Therefore, once more, the real and essential Self is 
distinct from the states of consciousness and the mental 
processes which represent it at any moment. 

But it will be said: — *so be it; but what are we to 
understand by the real Self apart from its representations } 

* Is it the Creative Essence, Will, the Unconscious, 
the essential dynamo-psychism (the name matters little), 
but is it the Creative Essence devoid of any individuali- 
sation, acquiring this individualisation only in and by 
representations, and losing it when these representations 
cease ? 

* Is it a part of the essential dynamo-psychism which 
retains individualisation, remembrance, and self-con- 
sciousness even after the cessation of the representations 
which it has passed through } * 

To answer this question, let us consider the second 
part of our demonstration, viz., that the essential 
dynamo-psychism passes by individual evolution from 
unconsciousness to consciousness. 



Up to this point our demonstration has been rigorously 
scientific and rests entirely on facts, or on inferences 
closely following on the facts. In that which follows 
we shall be obliged, though keeping to the same method, 
to allow a slightly larger margin for hypothesis. But 
we must ask the reader to hold judgment in suspense 
till the whole theory developed in this work has been 
completed. None of its details should be considered 
separately or apart from the general synthesis. This 
synthesis, as we shall see further on, is such that, as a 
whole, it appeals with all the weight of truth. 

For Schopenhauer and von Hartmann consciousness 
is inseparable from its representations. Between the 
conscious, on the one hand, and the will or the uncon- 
scious on the other, there is, according to them, an abyss 
which cannot be filled; there is an essential differen- 

We desire to establish on the contrary: — 

1 . That there is no such abyss between the conscious 

and the unconscious, for, in the individual, they 
constantly interpenetrate and mutually condition 
each other. 

2. That there is an uninterrupted transition from 

unconsciousness to consciousness ; and that the 
primitive unconsciousness tends more and more 
to become conscious by an undefined and 
uninterrupted evolution. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 


To consider the Unconscious first: — 

In the analytical study of its constituent elements 
we find some that are innate, which we shall consider 
further on, and some that are acquired. These latter 
were at first conscious; then they passed from the 
field of consciousness into subconsciousness and became 
cryptomnesic. Part of the subconscious cryptomnesia 
is made up of former states of consciousness. There 
is, therefore, a current setting continually from the 
conscious to the unconscious. 

Let us now consider the Conscious: — 

In the analytical study of its constituent elements 
we found that there are acquired elements which we 
know well, and innate elements which are more obscure. 
These latter are at first subconscious, then they pass 
from the field of subconsciousness and become conscious; 
from being cryptopsychic they become psychic. 

Thus the very structure of the conscious being — his 
essential character — is made up of subconscious capacities. 

The conscious psychism is therefore in main part 
constituted by the subconscious which conditions and 
directs it. There is therefore a continuous current 
setting from the unconscious to the conscious. 

In fine, there is a double, reciprocal, and continuous 
influence from the unconscious to the conscious, and vice 
versa — a complete interpenetration. 

Not only is there no impassable abyss, but the 
connection is close and direct. 

In conditioning the conscious the unconscious 
partly loses its character of unconsciousness, and acts 
not as unconsciousness but as a cryptoid consciousness, 
sometimes active, sometimes latent. 

In its turn the conscious partly conditions the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

unconscious by pouring into it the stream of psycho- 
logical acquisitions. Finally, these acquisitions, once 
conscious and now become subconscious, may, under 
favourable conditions, re-emerge into consciousness. 

What are we to conclude ? Simply this : — 

That which we in daily experience call * conscious- 
ness * is but a part of the conscious — the part immediately 
accessible within the given limits of time and space; 
but a large part of the conscious normally remains 

That which we in daily experience call * unconscious- 
ness * is but a part of the unconscious, of the true 
unconscious — that which remains inaccessible and 
unfathomable. The greater part of the unconscious 
rises daily into consciousness; it makes that conscious- 
ness and directs it. It is not even occult, it is merely 
anonymous : its activity from day to day is constant and 

From this point our demonstration will proceed 



The leading proposition may be established by a 
reasoned study of the individual psychism. 

Analysis of the higher subconsciousness permits us 
to distinguish in it two main categories of powers and 

{a) The first category has no analogy in conscious 
powers and conscious knowledge. It includes 
the so-called supernormal faculties, which are 
creative and are able to bring to the living being 
knowledge independently of his habitual means 
of cognisance and understanding. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

This category, this portion of the Self, necessarily 
remains mysterious; it is of the very essence of the 
unconscious, and brings the individual into touch with 
that which is divine in the universe. It eludes investi- 
gation by reason, and is incapable of any complete 

Q?) The second category includes those faculties 
and that knowledge which are essentially 
analogous to the conscious faculties and know- 
ledge, differing from them only by variety and 
extent. This category is more easily inter- 

We can verify ir the first place that it is composed 
partly of psychological experiences acquired consciously 
or even unknown to ourselves, which have passed, 
integrally, below the threshold of consciousness. 

Everything occurs as though the multitude of daily 
experiences had as their end or their result, an uninter- 
rupted enrichment of our subconsciousness during the 
whole of life. 

No remembrance, no vital or psychological experience 
is lost. In the course of life the organism undergoes 
immense modifications, and is doubtless renewed several 
times molecule by molecule. States of consciousness all 
more or less different, succeed one another. A life is 
really made up of a series of lives; the life of infancy, 
of childhood, of adolescence, of adult age and of old 
age; quite distinct lives though united by a substructure 
common to them all. 

These successive lives are more or less affected by 
seemingly complete oblivion, so that for the living being 
they are like so many partial deaths. 

But throughout the renovation of organic molecules, 
and of renewed states of consciousness, there persists a 
deep, superior psychism which has registered these states 
of consciousness and retains them indelibly. 

They are therefore not lost though they are in great 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

part latent. But this is not all. The subconscious 
psychism which is thus enriched throughout life, by all 
these states of consciousness, does not merely register 
them, it also assimilates them. 

All conscious acquisitions are assimilated and transmuted 
into faculties. This is noticeable in the course of existence. 
The being * develops,* and acquires new or extended 
powers of feeling, knowing, and understanding. Psycho- 
logical progress can be the result only of this transmuta- 
tion of knowledges into faculties. And this transmutation 
is subconscious. It does not take place among the 
unstable and ephemeral cerebral molecules; it necessi- 
tates a deep-seated and continuous elaboration in the 
essential and permanent part of the being; that is, in 
his subconscious dynamo-psychism. 

Thus the perpetual disintegration of the conscious 
personality is of small importance. The permanent 
subconscious individuality retains the indelible remem- 
brance of all the states of consciousness which have built 
it up. From these states of consciousness which it has 
assimilated it constructs new capacities. 

During the course of life the individual subcon- 
sciousness has made a new stride towards consciousness. 

We have henceforth a firm basis whence to proceed 
higher and further in our discovery of truth. 

Cryptopsychism is only in minor part composed of 
the experiences of this present life. The greater part 
is inborn. Whence does this come ? 

The most natural and reasonable hypothesis is that 
which is based on facts. Since cryptopsychism and 
cryptomnesia are both partially constructed out of daily 
experiences which have passed into the subconsciousness 
which they enrich, it is legitimate to infer that they are 
entirely constructed from past experiences. 

Since then in the course of our existence we find 
the origin of a part only of the contents of subconscious- 
ness, it is at least permissible to seek the remainder in 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

anterior experiences and to push back the cryptomnesia 
and the cryptopsychism of the individual beyond the 
present existence. 

Obviously this is a very wide inference to draw. To 
many readers it will at first sight seem, if not absurd, at 
all events out of proportion to the facts on which it is 

It must not, however, be considered by itself, but in 
conjunction with all the preceding demonstrations. 

It then has more weight. It is not hard to under- 
stand how the essential dynamo-psychism objectifying 
itself in new organic representations should retain the 
deep memory of experiences realised in previous repre- 
sentations. If in place of a single existence, we include 
a series of successive existences, the acquisition of con- 
sciousness by the primitive unconsciousness can readily 
be understood. 

Each of these innumerable and various experiences 
would have been impressed on the essential dynamism 
of the being, and would be transformed into a state of 
consciousness; that is into a remembrance and a capacity. 
It is thus that the living being passes little by little 
from unconsciousness to consciousness. 

Against this inference of re-birth, no objections of a 
scientific kind can be raised. We may seek in vain for 
a single one in the whole stock of knowledge. Forget- 
fulness of previous existences has but slight importance 
for modern science. Remembrance plays but a secondary 
part in normal psychology; forgetfulness is habitual 
and is the rule. 

In the course of a lifetime, the greater part of our 
experiences disappears. During regular and normal life 
the personal memory of the brain — memory — is altogether 
weak, unreliable, and fails us continually; it is still 
more defective in abnormal cases caused by * secondary 
states * whether spontaneous, hypnotic, or mediumistic. 
On the other hand, above this cerebral memory is 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

the subconscious memory — the infallible memory of the 
true and complete individuality, as indestructible as the 
being itself. 

In this essential memory there are engraved per- 
manently all the events of the present life, and all the 
remembrances and conscious acquisitions of the vast 
series of antecedent lives. 

In the light of the two propositions just stated, 
individual evolution can be understood and all naturalistic 
and philosophical problems relating to the individual can 
be resolved. 

No doubt from the metaphysical point of view the 
concept gives a large range to hypothesis, but from the 
psychological standpoint, there is no enigma on which 
it does not shed light. 



The rational concept of the individual in accord with all 
the facts is as follows. 

For the genesis of the individual the essential 
dynamo-psychism objectifies itself by graded primordial 
representations successively conditioning one another. 

According to our present knowledge the primordial 
representations are: — 

J. The purely mental; 

2. The Vital Dynamism; 

3. The single organic substance.* 

These primordial representations constitute them- 
selves into secondary representations: the mental, by 
states of consciousness and thoughts; the unique 
substance by cells and organs. These primordial repre- 
sentations are * cadres ' which remain the same from the 
birth to the death of the grouping which constitutes 
the individual. 

The secondary representations, on the contrary, 
are perpetually renewed. The cells of the organic com- 
plex, are born, die, and succeed each other very rapidly. 
The states of consciousness and thoughts follow on one 
another in the same way, associating, opposing, con- 
verging or diverging in a chaos which is co-ordinated 
only by the directing Self. 

* It is curious that the schools of thought called occultist have reached 
by intuitive or mystical paths a systematisation not unlike this, and 
describe each of the primordial representations as having each a concrete 
presentment, by means of an organic or fluidic substratum. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

The last terms of these representations, whether 
cells or thoughts, have a collective self-activity, a 
dynamism proper to themselves, and the rudiments of 
consciousness. Cells and thoughts are * wholes,' frag- 
mentary dynamo-psychisms, or monads.^ The graded 
* hierarchies ' which exist between the primordial repre- 
sentations exist also in principle between the secondary 
representations. There is a hierarchy of the tissues and 
a hierarchy of mental groups; and in the * cadres ' of 
primordial representations which are fixed and unchange- 
able during the continuance of the life-group, there 
exists a possibility of representations different from the 
normal secondary representations. Thus, the tissues 
and organs of the unique substance can be reconstituted 
by metapsychic materialisation into new forms, and 
the mental representations can be reconstituted into 
secondary personalities by an abnormal psychism. 

This clears up the concept of the individual both 
as such and in the many details of his physiology and 
his psychology. 

We will now return to the analysis of the individual 
and his representations, in detail. 


The body, which is the lower objectification and the 
ideoplastic representation of the self, can no longer be 
considered as playing the primordial and essential part 
that was assigned to it by classical psycho-physiology. 

The known facts of supernormal physiology seem 
to establish definitely that the diverse anatomical modali- 
ties of the organism are reducible to a unique representa- 
tion — the primordial substance, which is not nervous, 

* The celebrated experiments of Dr Carrel have positively demon-' 
strated this as regards ^e cells. 

22Q R 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

muscular, or osseous, etc. . . . but is substance pure 
and simple. 

This opens a vast field; and the study of organic 
modality must be resumed on an altogether new basis. 

This organic substance is built up, developed, main- 
tained, and repaired by the higher active principle — 
the vital dynamism — which conditions it. 

In our study of physiological individuality we have 
sufficiently demonstrated the reality of this vital dynamism 
considered as independent of the organic complex, and 
as an organising and directing principle. There is no 
need to revert to this demonstration. 

The vital dynamism, moreover, has its own proper, 
autonomous existence, shown by its limitations in time 
and space, as distinct from the higher dynamo-psychic 
principles in the individual, which are above time and 
space. The apparent manifestations of its organising, 
directive, and reparatory powers do not extend beyond 
the birth and death of the organism which it conditions. 
All available evidence shows that these manifestations 
are restricted within narrow limits. 

In building up the organism the vital dynamism is 
under a double influence: the influence of the higher 
dynamo- psychism of the Self, and the hereditary 
influence which seems to be linked to substance, i.e. 
the active ideoplastic influence of the living being, and 
the passive ideoplastic influence which is the mental 
imprint given to the substance by progenitors. 

Schopenhauer had already conceived of the sequence 
of organic edification as really proceeding from the 
active ideoplastic power. 

* The different parts of the body must correspond 
perfectly with the principal appetites by which the 
Will is manifest; they must be their visible expres- 
sions in being. The teeth, oesophagus, and intestinal 
canal are hunger objectified; similarly the genital 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

organs are the objectified sexual instinct; the hands 
which grasp, the feet which move, correspond to the 
less urgent desires of the Will which they represent. 
As the human form as a whole corresponds to the 
human will as a whole, so the form of the individual 
body (which is consequently very characteristic and 
very expressive) corresponds to the individual modi- 
fications of the will and to a particular character.* 

To this concept of the ideoplastic activity we have 
only to add that the objectification of the essential 
dynamo-psychism is not primarily and immediately an 
objectification in matter. It is primarily mental. Then 
the mental objectification is transferred into dynamic 
objectification, and this again into organic representation. 

The passive ideoplasticity is the mental imprint 
received from progenitors, and is the sum total of heredity. 
It plays an important part in the building up of the 
organism, because the directive will of the Self is not 
powerful enough at the existing level of evolution to 
modify the main physiological functions. The body 
and the vital dynamism form a kind of lower self, having 
a will of its own, over which the control of the higher 
Self is only a partial and relative. 

The influence of the active ideoplasticity is none the 
less the preponderant influence. It determines the 
destiny and the purpose of the organism and adapts 
human cerebration to its normal use. 

Deprived of this higher direction, the action of the 
vital dynamism in highly evolved creatures, and especially 
in man, may be perverted, warped, or weakened, and 
may produce abortions and monsters. 

The embryonic growth of an organism is manifest 
as a regular and normal * materialisation,' while meta- 
psychic materialisation is only an irregular and abnormal 
ideoplastic growth. 

The building up of an organism, moreover, can occur 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

normally, otherwise than under the usual conditions 
which govern generation in highly evolved creatures. 
In parthenogenesis, in reproduction by budding, the 
grouping of organic and dynamic monads takes place 
otherwise than by the conjunction of an ovum and 
spermatozoon. These facts, which seem disconcerting, 
can easily be explained by the new ideas; they simply 
prove that the conditions which govern cellular and 
dynamic groups are not restricted to fertilisation.^ 

Once constituted, the vital dynamism represents a 
storage of power, confined within narrow limits both 
as to its duration and its potentialities. 

In its duration, because the powers of organic repair 
diminish with maturity and do not prevent the body 
from slow disintegration under the wastage of old age. 

In its potentialities, for an organic injury may be 
beyond the power of repair and may bring about the 
premature end of the corporeal grouping. 

It is to be remarked that the limitations of the vital 
dynamism are more pronounced in the higher than in 
the lower forms of life. It may be, however, that in 
these latter the case is rather one of less restricted 
specialisation than of greater power. 

In any case, a special study of the vital dynamism 
in the lower grades of life, such as plants and protozoa, 
will be necessitated by reason of the great differences 
in its qualities and modes of action as shown in them. 
It seems certain, however, that in the more highly 
evolved forms the reparative action of the vital dynamism 

^ We may remark, passim, that there is a curious analogy between 
reproduction by cuttings, and especially by buds, and the metapsychic 
materialisations. MateriaUsation often proceeds (as we have seen) by a 
kind of budding or prolonging of the primary substance exteriorised by 
the medium, this bud developing into a being or the fragment of a being. 
The difference is in the duration, and that is only a matter of time and 
modality. There is nothing to prove that in the end the materiahsation 
may not prove to be separable from the medium, and given a separate 
existence, just as the cutting or the bud is separated from the parent 
stock. Impossible ! it will be said. By no means. The rashness would 
lie with those, who, knowing what we now know, affirm the impossibility. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

is very much more restricted than in the lower forms 
because of the high centralisation in the former which 
monopolises the greater part of the energy for the 
functions of the nervous system.^ Certainly in these 
more evolved forms it has far less than the amazing 
power observable in the invertebrates and even in some 
lower vertebrates ; a power which extends to the renewal 
of members or even of viscera. 

Even such as it is, it is capable of unexpected 
marvels, and if it is premature to anticipate a new 
system of medicine based on a deeper study of 
the vital dynamism, at least its possibility may be 

The function and purpose of the body and the 
vital dynamism which, together constitute the lower 
self of the individual, seem to be to limit the activity 
of the Self and give it a specific direction — to specialise 
it, so to speak. Everything occurs as though each 
terrestrial existence, each organic objectification, each 
* incarnation ' if the term is preferred, were for the real 
being a limitation in time, space, and means. It would 
seem to resemble a compulsion to a restricted and 
specialised task, an effort directed to a single aim exclu- 
sive of others. Sharply defined as this is from the 
physiological point of view, this limitation is still more 
strict psychologically. 

This limitation is the cause of the impotence of the 
supernormal faculties. It trammels the manifestation of 
the inspiration of intuitive and creative genius. It is the 
cause of the forgetting during organic life of the immense 
majority of acquired experiences in their quality of 
remembrances as distinct from capacities developed; it 

*• It is not absurd to surmise that prolonged artificial quiescence of the 
nervous system, say by a long period of special hjrpnosis, might render 
possible a quite unexpected extension of the healing and reparatory 
power of the vital dynamism. 

This power is actually shown, exceptionally, in abnormal states and 
in the cures which are called miraculous. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

is the dominant cause of ignorance in the individual 
of his real position in the evolutionary scale. 

The cerebral organ is, of course, indispensable for 
psychological function in relation to the external world. 
But this organ is capable only of a restricted activity 
and has but a limited amount of that storage power 
which we call memory. As the passing impressions 
which it has received are effaced, the memory of these 
impressions tends to disappear from normal consciousness. 

This is very obvious in the normal course of life, 
and, a fortiori., the brain when newly acquired cannot 
vibrate in harmony with impressions long past, which, 
even in normal life, only occasionally reach the threshold 
of consciousness. 

This forgetfulness, however, is only apparent, since 
the remembrance remains in the essential memory of the 
Self; and in the lower phases of evolution it is salutary, 
for it necessitates a multiplicity of experiences under 
continually changing conditions. This forgetfulness, 
moreover, allows the Self to pursue its line of develop- 
ment without being embarrassed or turned aside from 
its aim. Like death itself, it is a factor favouring 
evolution. 1 

And further, the usual inaccessibility of the faculties 
of instinct, intuition, and the supernormal powers 
generally (which pertain to the unconscious), compels 
constant considered effort, and thus it also favours 


We have now considered the body and the vital 
dynamism which constitute the lower self of the indi- 
vidual. We shall now study the higher group — the 
mental dynamo-psychism and the Self. 

1 See Part III. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Everything that is essential in the being — ^the innate 
faculties, the intellectual aptitudes, and the primordial 
powers — belong to this group. 

The central monad, the real Self, is the source and 
principle of creative genius and inspiration. Its function 
is to centralise and direct the psychological whole. It 
ensures individual permanence in spite of the perpetual 
renewal of states of consciousness during one life and 
the changes of personality in successive lives. It retains 
integrally the remembrance of all its acquisitions, and 
assimilates them to itself. By this assimilation of past 
states of consciousness, the consciousness which repre- 
sents and synthetises all past realisations, develops 
little by little. In it resides the whole of the latent 
consciousness, made up of a vast mass of experiences, 
acquisitions, and realisations. 

The mentality which the Self directs is made up 
of states of consciousness not as yet assimilated, but 
which it regulates and uses. There is in it an extensive 
group of intellectual monads — * elementary dynamo- 
psychisms,* at a high evolutionary level and possessing 
a marked degree of self-activity, autonomy, and individ- 

In the psychic whole these elements form secondary 
groups determined by affinities and associations which 
all tend to independence. Thus there are in the psychism 
two constant currents — the one centrifugal and decen- 
tralising in its action, tending to anarchy or polyarchy; 
and the other centripetal, tending to centralisation 
and governance by the Self. 

The general grouping is determined by affinities; 
the psychic elements which form a new being are grouped 
by the tendencies and the aspirations which mark the 
evolutionary level reached by the Self. 

We are here dealing with a primary fact, on which 
special stress is to be laid, that the total psychism is 
closely bound up with and limited by the cerebral 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

psychism for all manifestations in its relations with the 
external world. The expression of thought, and all 
manifestations of mental activity have to flow along the 
cerebral channel; and this channel, which is both narrow 
and fixed in its direction, limits and determines the 
whole activity of the Self in that same direction. 

The close association of the Self with the lower 
group implies a restriction of the activity of the Self; 
whereas all dissociation from the lower group implies 
its extension. The total psychism therefore differs from 
the psychism of normal life, which is limited by the 
cerebral conditions. 

In this concept there is one point to which we must 
call special attention in order to avoid false and mis- 
leading interpretations; this concerns the subordination 
of the cerebral to the higher psychism. This concept 
must by no means be understood in the sense that there 
are in the individual two beings, distinct in their essence 
and destiny. This misapprehension is, unfortunately, 
nearly universal. It dominates the systems both of 
Schopenhauer and von Hartmann. 

* We may be consoled,* writes Von Hartmann, 
for having minds so low and absorbed in material 
things, so devoid of poetic and religious sense; there 
is deep within us a marvellous subconsciousness 
which dreams and prays while we work for our 

Certain mystics fall into the same error when they 
gravely teach that all acts, both those which are most 
meritorious or most guilty, have little importance because 
they do not proceed from the real Self, and have no 
effect upon it. 

This is radically false. 

The Self is not a duality, it is a unity. But during 
terrestrial life cerebral conditions only allow of a restricted 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

and truncated manifestation of the total psychism. This 
limitation hides from the person not only his meta- 
physical essence, but also the greater part of his conscious 

In abnormal states, when the subconscious part 
manifests itself more or less distinctly, this creates the 
illusion of duality, just because being outside and above 
temporary limitations, it appears quite different from 
the normal psychism. 

But the conscious and the unconscious constitute 
one and the same individuality in which the interplay 
from one to the other is correlative and unceasing. 

It is, moreover, extremely difficult, for want of a 
definite criterion, to state exactly what are the limits of 
contribution by the subconscious, and in what measure 
this contribution is conditioned by organic factors and 
cerebral heredity. 

According to the notions put forward above, there 
are constant alternations of * associated life ' and * dis- 
sociated life ' in the permanent and indestructible 
existence of the individual. 

The phases of associated life — the association of the 
Self with organic and material life — ^imply a process 
of analysis, a perfecting of detail, a progress towards 
consciousness by restricted efforts directed in a special 
sense which is imposed by the present objectification; 
efforts which are concurrent with those of the other 

* monads ' constituting the dynamic and material 

The phases of dissociated life imply a progress by 
contemplation, by deep inward assimilation, working 
towards synthesis. 

Myers believed also in a special development of the 
faculties called supernormal during these phases of 

* discarnate * life. These faculties, however, which 
pertain to the divine essence of the unconscious, must 
really be immutable; but it is quite possible that the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Self, passing beyond terrestrial existences, may learn to 
use these supernormal faculties, and to understand them 
sufficiently to bring them little by little under the 
dominion of its will. 

The hypothesis is a large one, but its study must 
be left to future research in the metapsychic domain, 
by which it may, perhaps, be confirmed. With more 
certainty we may infer that the being in its discarnate 
phases, freed from cerebral conditions, can and should, 
when it has reached a sufficiently high level of con- 
sciousness and liberty, know itself better and better.* 
Its past should be accessible to him within the limits 
of its evolution as actually realised, and it might even 
be able consciously to prepare its future. 



This paragraph has no claim to be scientific; the 
hypotheses which it puts forward are only intended to 
offer matter for discussion. 


At the beginning of evolution, as far as we may be 
able to conceive of such beginning, there is neither 
consciousness nor individualisation. Schopenhauer 
expressed this as follows; — 

* Thus in the lowest forms of life we have seen 
Will appearing as a blind impulse, a dumb and 
mysterious effiDrt far from any direct consciousness. 
It is the simplest and weakest of its objectifications. 

* We have shown in L'Etre Subconscient that liberty and consciousness 
are correlative to each other. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

It is manifest as a blind impulse and an unconscious 
effort in all inorganic nature and in all the primary 
forces whose laws it is the task of physics and 
chemistry to seek out. Millions of phenomena, 
show each of these laws as altogether similar and 
regular, bearing no trace of any individual character.* 

It may be admitted that wherever a rudiment of 
consciousness appears in the primitive unconscious, 
individualisation has begun. This rudiment of con- 
sciousness is at first extremely minute and inappreciable. 
It existed, however, doubtless, as soon as the universe 
showed a trace of organisation — sooner, perhaps, than 
Schopenhauer thought. 

However this may be, once this rudiment of con- 
sciousness has been acquired, it will be indelible, and 
will henceforward continue to increase without limit. 

Thus are constituted individual * monads ' by rudi- 
mentary accessions of consciousness. This old term 
' monad * may be kept, restricting it to the general 
meaning of a dynamo-psychic individuality — a part of 
the universal creative dynamo-psychism ; having, like 
it, all potentialities of realisation and the characteristic of 
divine permanence. 

The objectification of these monads, and their subse- 
quent evolution, are the resultant of the continuous 
effort of the unconscious dynamo-psychism in its tendency 
towards consciousness — ^an effort which necessitates an 
immense total of sensations and acquisitions. 

From this continual work of analysis and acquisition 
there result groups of monads which constitute the whole 
organised representation of the universe. 

In the universality of things there are therefore only 
everlasting monads, and temporary groupings of them 
in ephemeral ' representations.' 

That which is called the formation of a living being, 
would thus be only the complex association and formation 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

of a group. That which is called its death would be in 
reality only the dissociation of the group. It is not the 
annihilation of the constituent monads, which, according 
to affinities determined by the past or by the necessities 
of future evolution, go to form a new being by a new 

These individual monads are identical in potentiality 
but not in realisation. By reason of the rudiments of 
consciousness they have acquired, the evolutionary 
impulse becomes more and more susceptible to the 
influence of acquisitions. The factors of adaptation and 
selection come into play; they make effort obligatory — 
an effort which is at first purely reflex, then instinctive, 
then reasoned; and effort necessarily causes inequalities 
of consciousness and consequent inequalities in realisation. 
These inequalities of evolving parts are, however, kept 
within limits by the original and essential solidarity of 
those parts. 

Thanks to that all-powerful solidarity, the growth into 
consciousness cannot be purely individual, it is neces- 
sarily in very great measure, collective. Thus the 
evolution of the more conscious monads favours the 
evolution of the less conscious; and the retardation of 
these latter slows down the evolution of the former. 

This solidarity which is evident in the sum total 
of beings and in the whole universe, is especially visible 
in those complex associations which constitute animal 
colonies and still more so in those graded (hierarchised) 
associations which we have already studied as constituting 
living beings. 


If now, having considered past and present evolution, 
we seek to predict what its future will be, we are led 
to an important inference. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

As the reversion from the conscious to. the uncon- 
scious illuminates the latter more and more, there will 
necessarily come a time when nothing will be mysterious 
or obscure. 

At what we will call the summit of evolution, as far 
as it is possible to conceive of this, the apparent separa- 
tion and the temporary scission between the conscious 
and the subconscious will no longer exist. All the 
capacities and all the knowledge that go to make up 
the living being, all its vast past, will henceforward be 
integrally, directly, regularly, and normally accessible. 
Similarly the supernormal powers will be under the 
control of the conscious will. 

The subconscious being will have disappeared and 
only the conscious being will remain. Then, but only 
then, the essential dynamo-psychism will deserve the 
name of Will. 

If we did not fear to lose our way in the metaphysical 
realm, we might permit ourselves another inference, but 
one which we can merely indicate with caution and with 
large reservations. 

This infinitely vast expansion of consciousness 
should necessarily result in the disruption of those 
factitious and transitory groupings which make individu- 

The monads would then return to the original 
unity from whence they were derived. 

But this unity, this synthesis of all consciousness, 
will absorb them all into itself, while leaving each 
indelible and eternal. 

Arrived at its summum, each individual consciousness 
will be expanded to total consciousness; it will have 
become the total Consciousness Itself. 

The ' summit ' of evolution may then be imaged as 
a kind of * conscious nirvana.* 



It remains now to adapt the preceding notions to 
psychology as a whole. 

The simplicity of this interpretation compared with 
the lamentable impotence of classical psychology, "will 
afford a conclusive and palmary proof of its truth. To 
the classical psychology all the states and all the facts 
which we are about to discuss are so many pure mysteries. 


Let us imagine a certain person in whom the synthesis 
of the different constituent principles is well established. 
They are linked together by satisfactory affinities and 
none is out of harmony. 

The centralisation is strong and the homogeneity 

The central monad — ^the Self — directs the mental 
dynamo-psychism, and has complete control over all 
its elements. Through the mental dynamo-psychism it 
directs the vital dynamism and the body, within the 
limits prescribed by the evolutionary level attained. It 
must be remembered that this evolutionary level does not 
allow of consciousness of the vital functions and does 
not give the power to act on the main bodily functions — 
the vital dynamism retaining a large measure of self- 

The individual so constituted is in stable equilibrium. 
His psychic health is perfect. But at the same time he 
finds himself severely limited by organic conditions. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

The solidarity of his superior psychism with his cerebral 
psychism being absolute, all the activities of the former 
are limited by the extent of the latter and restrained 
within its conditions. 

Such an individual cannot be conscious of his latent 
powers, nor of anj^hing which concerns his higher 
psychism. In him the products of higher inspiration 
and of his brain are closely unified and make a harmonious 
whole. His psychology is normal — typical — marked by 
the equilibrium of his faculties and their regular output, 
but also by their narrow limitations. 

These well-balanced individuals may be at very 
different evolutionary levels. There are among them 
many mediocrities, but also some very intelligent men. 
Their intellectual output is regular and contains no 
surprises. They never perceive any subconscious contri- 
butions, these being too closely connected with the 
results of voluntary effort. They know nothing of 
intuition; they are never original. If they understand 
art they are never artists in the higher sense of the word; 
still less are they inventors or creative. They have no 
genius, and none of the higher kind of inspiration. 

Well-balanced minds play a useful part in science 
and social life by their poise and the correctness of their 
reasoning on ordinary matters ; they are also detrimental 
by their hatred of innovation and their immovable 

Their opinions are generally those of their surround- 
ings. They do not seek to improve on these, and are 
inclined to accept any prevalent idea, which seems to 
them established by the mere fact that it is prevalent. 
They are impervious to philosophy, or are satisfied with 
a dull commonplace philosophy conformable to estab- 
lished ideas. They tend strongly towards materialism, 
for the close fusion of the constituent principles and 
their limitation by matter do not allow them to look 
beyond material things. That in them which is above 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

material limitations, is entirely unknown to them; and 
they have no real philosophical curiosity. To them 
everything is relatively simple because they avoid going 
to the bottom of anything. 


In place of the previously described harmonious 
and well established synthesis and the perfect blend of 
the different constituent principles of the Self, let us 
now suppose an unstable synthesis, having some lack 
of union or affinity between the * cadres,' involving 
a disharmony. The whole phenomena of abnormal 
psychology result from such conditions. 

Where there is a break of equilibrium or want of 
harmony between the body and the vital dynamism 
which directs and conditions it, we have the origin of 
all hysteriform manifestations of a physiological kind. 
Where there is a break or want of harmony between 
the mentality and the Self, we have the cause of all 
kinds of mental instability from simple neuroses to 
disintegration into multiple personalities, or dementia. 

Theoretically, want of equilibrium could only exist 
between any two of the constituent principles of the 
Self; but in fact no want of balance is partial only; by 
reason of the essential solidarity of the individual group- 
ing, every cause of disharmony between any two * cadres * 
reacts on the whole of the groups forming the individual. 
This is the reason why there is no hystero-physiological 
disturbance without mental disturbance, and no mental 
trouble without some hysteriform repercussion. 

The same causes which produce abnormal psychology 
— a want of perfect equilibrium between the constituent 
principles of the individual grouping — permits of the 
isolated manifestation of one or other of these groups 
by its * secession * or even its * exteriorisation/ 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

It has one good result; it diminishes the limitations 
of the higher psychism, and permits it to appear. 

Thus the same factor is the source of psychological 
morbidity, and of high psychic manifestations : it opens 
the door to mental disorder, but also to crypto-psychism, 
cryptomnesia, to the manifestations of genius, to intuition, 
and to supernormal states. It allows the individual flashes 
of insight into his real state and his destiny. 

These general notions being admitted, we can now 
enter more fully on detail, and shall successively con- 
sider: — 

Neuropathic states; 





Alterations of personality; 

Intellectual work by the higher subconscious psychism 
and genius; 

Crypto-psychism and cryptomnesia; 

The Supernormal; and 


All these abnormal psychological states have reciprocal 
relations and inevitable points of contact, both by their 
original nature and by their particular conditions. They 
often interpenetrate. 


Instability in the equilibrium of the individual 
grouping is at the root of all neuropathic states, causing 
a relative and partial disorder which is the origin of all 
nervous troubles. 

Contrariwise to what we have noted in the well- 
balanced man, we find a want of homogeneity and 
dependence between the different constituent principles. 

245 s 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

The centralising direction is imperfect; there is no 
harmonious fusion between the Self and the mentality, 
between the mentality and the vital dynamism, and 
between this last and the organism. 

This state of unstable equilibrium allows of momen- 
tary and partial decentralisations which are indeed 
sources of disorder, but are also conditions in which the 
lessened limitations imposed by the body, allow of the 
possibility of bringing to light everything which in the 
normal psychic being is cryptoid or occult, whether of 
the nature of faculty or of knowledge. But this mani- 
festation is never regular; the intellectual output is 
occasional and sporadic; it requires a collaboration of 
the conscious and the subconscious; and the modalities 
and difficulties of this collaboration are well known. 
Persons so constituted are, like the well-balanced, at 
very various levels of evolution. 

There are among them mediocrities, in whom, 
however, a tinge of originality corrects psychological 

There are inferior neuropaths who drag out a morbid 
existence of semi-insanity or semi-imbecility, showing 
the mental and physical defects which are now called 

There are also superior neuropaths whose talents or 
genius are inseparable from similar defects. These 
defects cause great suffering; the superior neuropath 
finds it hard to govern his grouping, to direct his body 
and even his mentality. Often this mentality escapes 
more or less from his control and he then skirts the 
edge of total disequilibrium or insanity. Over and 
above his psycho-physiological defects, he feels dimly 
the limitations imposed on him by his nerves and brain, 
and thence arise his greatest sufferings, even though he 
is not fully aware of their cause. 

How much suffering is involved in these limitations, 
in the intuitive perceptions of genuine intuitive faculty 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

which nevertheless are not at his free disposal; in the 
desire to reduce large abstract perceptions to concrete 
analytical work; in the effort to express in words that 
which he conceives of so well without words; in the 
necessity which obliges him to submit the work of his 
highest and conscious Self to the lower organic 

Guyau has described this state very vividly. 

* We suffer from a kind of hypertrophy of the 
intellect. All those who are in travail of thought, 
all who meditate on life and death, all those who 
philosophize, end by experiencing the same pain. 
And so there are great artists who pass their lives 
in the endeavour to bring to realisation an ideal 
which is more or less inaccessible to them. They 
are attracted from all sides, by all the sciences, by 
all the arts; they desire to enter into all, and are 
obliged to refrain and to divide themselves. A 
man feels the greedy brain draw to itself the energy 
of the whole organism, and he is impelled to subdue 
it, and to resign himself to vegetate instead of living. 
He does not so resign himself, but prefers to give 
himself up to the inner fire which consumes him. 
His thought becomes enfeebled, it stresses the 
nervous system, feminizes him; though it does not 
touch his will which remains virile, unsatisfied, and 
always on the stretch. From all this arises a long 
struggle of himself against himself, a weary conflict 
between the alternative of muscle or nerve, to be 
a man or a woman. The thinker, the artist, is 
neither the one nor the other. 

* Oh, if we could only once, and by one huge 
effort, give birth to the whole world of thought and 
feeling that we carry within, with what joy would 
we welcome that power even though the whole 
organism were to be broken and destroyed in the 


"From the TJnconscious to the Conscious 

pangs of creating. But no! We must give our- 
selves by small fractions, spend ourselves drop by 
drop, and endure all the trammels of life. Little by 
little the whole organism is wearied out in this struggle 
between the body and the ideal, then the intellect 
itself is obscured and fails — ^it is a living and suffering 
flame which flickers in a wind which blows ever 
more strongly till the vanquished spirit is borne 

The co-existence of neuropathic disturbance, or even 
of insanity, with the inspiration of genius does not then 
prove that this latter is derived from the former. It 
simply proves that the want of equilibrium in the 
individual grouping which is the first condition of the 
decentralised manifestations, is at the root of genius. 
And indeed this psychological decentralisation in a 
man of genius is sometimes pushed so far that he may 
behave as a visionary, may exteriorise his inspirations and 
objectify them till they become hallucinations. 

Another type of neuropath not less curious than 
the man of genius is the medium. 

The essential characteristic of this type is an excessive 
tendency to decentralisation in the individual grouping. 
It is by reason of this tendency that phenomena of 
exteriorisation, the isolated action of constituent elements, 
the activity of cryptoid faculties, and the incursions of 
the supernormal become possible. 

The decentralising tendency is the origin of most 
neuropathic defects, but in this, more than in other 
neuropathic types, it withdraws the individual grouping 
from the directive action of the Self. The medium is 
not master in his own house; and thence, from the 
psychological point of view, three characteristics follow: — 

He is extremely impressionable; 

He is very suggestible ; 

He is very unstable in his temper and his ideas. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

These characteristics are found, more or less, in 
all mediums of whatever intellectual level. 

The psychological instability of mediums does not 
prevent strength of will and perseverance, at least among 
those of a superior type, but both strength of will and 
perseverance only appear when supported by a suggestion 
or an auto-suggestion. If these are not present, a 
strange falling off may be manifest ; the opinions of the 
medium are unstable and eminently open to surrounding 
influences when he is not on his guard. One may hear 
him with the utmost good faith from one day to another, 
sustain quite diametrically opposed opinions; indeed 
it often happens that in a short space of time he passes 
from one extreme of opinion to another. 

The want of regulating power of the Self on his 
mentality is shown by marked tendency to disjunctions 
in the latter. These disjunctions sometimes end in 
the formation of secondary personalities, following a 
sequence which we shall study later on, and more 
frequently to incipient duplications; owing to which 
the medium is essentially complex, difficult to judge, 
and capable of extremely contradictory words and acts. 

In daily life the sudden predominance of some single 
pervading idea, impression or feeling, may constantly 
be observed; and then, all the psychological powers 
escaping from the control of the Self, group themselves 
round the usurping idea and give it unexpected force. 
It is for this reason that mediums make exceedingly 
good actors. 

This dominance by a single idea may have fruitful 
results; but in most cases the pseudo-centralisation 
round the idea lasts but a short time. A new idea takes 
the place of the former, and determines a new grouping 
and a new impulse. Being at the mercy of the momen- 
tary impressions, the medium is liable to a sudden 
throwing out of gear of the psychic forces, thus producing 
a disproportionate effect in the sense given by the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

impression which has brought about the disturbance. 
He then is impervious to any exterior influence and to 
all reasoning. At such times an external contradiction 
is never accepted. 

When mediums are persons of high intellectual type 
the concentration of the psychic powers on ideas succeed- 
ing one another rapidly and reinforced by this concen- 
tration, makes them brilliant speakers and wonderful 
improvisers; but the quality of their intellectual output 
is extremely diverse, varying from high inspiration to 
commonplace fluency, and mere incontinence of thought. 

Just as the neuropathic defects of men of genius 
do not explain genius, so the characteristics or defects 
of mediums do not explain mediumship, they are its 


It may seem strange to refer neurasthenia to a dis- 
equilibrium in the individual grouping, but nothing is 
more true. 

Neurasthenia is essentially due to a want of corre- 
spondence between the vital dynamism and the organism. 

This disturbance can hardly exist without a congenital 
predisposing cause, but it may be provoked by some 
proximate cause, a slight infection or toxic influence, a 
defect of glandular secretion, some organic defect or a 
reflex action. Whatever the immediate cause mav be, 
there is no proportion between it and the symptoms 

The defective action of the vital dynamism appears 
first as a feeling of fatigue. The vital functions, the 
regular play of the organs, all which normally take place 
unnoticed and regularly, require a painful effort in the 

His sleep is disturbed, there is always insomnia, or 
hypo-somnia, which does not completely arrest the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

activity of the brain, so that sleep does not renovate, and 
fatigue is experienced on awaking. During the day 
cerebral work is slow, laborious, and marked by a diffi- 
culty in associating ideas and concentrating attention. 

The want of equilibrium between the organism and 
the vital dynamism reacts more or less on the whole 

Thus neurasthenia is not the consequence of nervous 
exhaustion; that is secondary; it arises from a disturb- 
ance in the action of the vital dynamism on the body. 

To cure it, * tonics ' are useless ; what is required is 
to regularise the relations of the body with the vital 
dynamism, while suppressing also the immediate organic 

This latter is readily accessible to medical science, 
and neurasthenics are always benefited when the imme- 
diate cause is known and treated. But the more 
important point — the regularising of relations between 
the body and the vital dynamism — should be studied 
with a view to more precise knowledge of this latter 
and its essential nature. It would be well to try physical 
agents whose dynamism is powerful. Already the 
sun-cure, and life in the open air have produced dis- 
tinctly good results, and indicate a wide field for 

Curative mediumship deserves to be thoroughly 
studied. Some persons seem to be able to exteriorise 
part of their own dynamism to reinforce the failing 
powers of the sick. Some surprising cures have been 
thus effected, some of which seem to go beyond the 
class of nervous ailments. 


Hysteria is brought about by want of harmony 
between the constituent principles of the individual 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

grouping and the want of subordination to the central 
direction of the Self. 

From the physical and physiological point of view 
this disharmony, this want of affinity and concord between 
the organs and the vital dynamism, explains all the 
varied symptoms and morbid localisations of hysteria 
— anaesthesia, hyperaesthesia, cramps, paralysis, and 
nutritive troubles. 

The symptoms of this neurosis are unstable and 
changeable, just because they are not of organic origin 
but result from imperfect regulating power of the vital 

From the psychological point of view, the disharmony 
between the mentality and the Self and imperfect control 
by the latter, explains all those psychic defects which 
are so common and well known. The hysteric is usually 
an * inferior neuropath,' incapable of fulfilling his duties 
— an engineer who cannot control his machine. 

Suggestibility and * pythiatism * are consequences of 
the feeble control of the Self; they are not the causes, 
but the results, of the hysterical condition. 


If we take one step farther and imagine a want of 
equilibrium which is not merely relative but absolute 
or nearly absolute — a total or nearly total want of direction 
— we have dementia. 

Dementia is primarily anarchy of the mental elements, 
on which the Self has no longer any action; not even 
the limited, enfeebled, and intermittent control which 
it still retains in the hysteric. 

What comes to pass when mental anarchy is firmly 
established by the absence of control by the Self } 

The psychic functions and faculties, the acquired 
knowledge are intact but undirected. They may show 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

only incoherence, but more frequently some idea, some 
feeling, some elementary psychic grouping, is formed 
and tends to become permanent, producing fixed ideas 
and systematic delirium. 

The mental disharmony is not an isolated symptom, 
but by reason of the fundamental solidarity of the con- 
stituent principles, it is always accompanied by a total 
want of equilibrium of the individual grouping. Mania 
may be ascending or descending, it may arise in the 
mentality or it may end there. Very often it is started 
by some toxic, infectious, or reflex trouble attacking 
the brain. In these cases the symptoms are often mental 
confusion, maniacal excitement, or melancholia, some- 
times alternating with circular delirium. The frequent 
inheritance of insanity proves the importance of the 
physical factor in its genesis. 

In other cases the origin may be purely mental, 
and when that is so the insanity is generally partial 
only; a certain amount of control by the Self persists; 
not sufficient to arrest the tendency to delirium and the 
abnormal grouping round a predominant idea, but 
enough to leave some appearance of reason and to permit 
the continuance of psychic function. 

There are many degrees in the insanity which has 
a mental origin and we find every grade between mere 
mental instability and complete dementia. There are 
not only the half-mad, but * quarter and one-tenth mad.* 

The control of the Self over the mentality at the 
actual evolutionary level that humanity has reached is 
so imperfect that it is seldom perfectly regular; and in 
this sense there is no man who is completely free from 
some mental disequilibrium. Some mental irregularity 
is almost the rule, perfect psychic health the exception. 

Whether the exciting cause be of organic or of 
mental origin, essential insanity is not strictly speaking 
a disease of the brain. It is simply the partial or complete 
absence of the control of the Self over its mentality. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

The elementary groups of the latter are intact and long 
remain so ; but if the superior control is not re-established 
the prolonged disorganisation reacts on cerebral function 
and ends in the brain lesions of degeneracy. 


Hypnotism and its modalities are capable of very 
simple explanation. Its manifestations are analogous 
to those of hysteria, with this difference — that they are 
artificial and generally wider in scope. Hypnosis demands 
a certain predisposition to decentralisation, such as the 
mediumistic temperament. It comes about by a factitious 
rupture in the equilibrium of the individual grouping. 

The real and true cause and primary condition is the 
decentralisation of the individual grouping. 

All the usual phenomena are then easily understood 
— ^automatism, suggestibility, modifications of person- 
ality, the substitution of an inner or outer direction for 
the central control, mono-ideaism, etc, etc. 

The isolated cerebral psychism is remarkably sug- 
gestible and automatic. Its manifestations appear as 
a kind of inferior subconsciousness, very passive, and 
unable to go beyond its acquisitions and habits. 

The extra-cerebral psychism shows itself in cryptom- 
nesia and cryptopsychism, and its grouping into very 
diverse personalities. Sometimes it will reveal higher 
DOwers and supernormal flashes due to decentralisation, 
and therefore to the momentary and relative release from 
organic limitations. Hypnotism resembles a half-opened 
door on the cryptoid portion of the Self. 

What part is to be referred to suggestion in the 
genesis of hypnosis } Simply that it is a frequent and 
useful, but by no means an indispensable factor. Sugges- 
tion, by itself, explains nothing; it is a secondary reaction 
resulting from lessened or suppressed control by the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

higher direction of the Self over the decentralised 
individual grouping. Hypnotism may act, exceptionally, 
on the mental elements, but it seems unnecessary to 
point out that it acts chiefly on the cerebral psychism. 

The commonplace hypnotic state referred to in 
classical theory is primarily due to the secession of the 
lower group (the vital dynamism and the body) from 
the higher group (the mentality and the Self). This 
lower group acts as an automaton, slavishly, under the 
suggestion of the magnetiser. The automatism and the 
extreme suggestibility are thus easily comprehensible. 

Both in hypnosis and somnambulism the automatism 
acts with remarkable precision. 

In UEtre Suhconscient I explained this precision of 
action by the fact that all the vital forces grouped round 
a single idea without consideration or distractions give 
great power and sureness of action. This, no doubt, is 
true, but there is more in it than this; there appears 
to be a curious regression towards animality. The lower 
group, deprived of conscious direction, seems to recover 
for the time the sureness characteristic of animal instinct. 


Nothing puts the truth of our concept of the individual 
in a clearer light than the ease with which it enables 
us to understand alterations of personality. 

These manifestations have, up to the present, been 
either absolute riddles or have received pseudo-inter- 
pretations which have been crude or meaningless when 
they have not been empty verbalism — distinguishing 
the subconsciousness from infra-consciousness, super- 
consciousness, or co-consciousness! 

The root and original cause of the phenomenon is 
the setting aside of the central direction of the Self. 

The factitious personalities are due to isolated 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

manifestations in the psychological groups detached from 
the Self. 

Isolated activity of the cerebral psychism is shown 
by automatism; or by pseudo-personalities aroused by 
suggestion — personalities of a commonplace kind and 
inferior order, devoid of originality. 

Isolated activity of the mental elements of the extra- 
cerebral psychism is the origin of the multiplication of 
personalities of higher and more complex kinds. 

The phenomenon of incipient mental dissociation 
with a tendency to duplication, is frequent in normal 
life, by reason of the complexity of the mentality, of the 
alternating predominance of certain groupings which 
may be rivals or antagonistic, and the inability of the 
Self to bring them into harmony. 

But in abnormal states and in certain predisposed 
persons this duplication of personality goes to unexpected 

That true multiple personalities should appear, two 
conditions are essential. 

Firstly, a liability to decentralisation, and a certain 
instability of the central direction — a weakness in the 
individual * autocracy.* 

Secondly, a defect in assimilation of the mental 
elements by the Self. This second condition is a chief 
one. Without this defect of assimilative power, there 
may be decentralisation, but no * personality ' worthy of 
the name will appear. 

We have seen that the Self retains the complete 
knowledge of states of consciousness and assimilates 
them. If this assimilation is imperfect, these states of 
consciousness retain an irregular and centrifugal self- 
activity which tends towards isolated and distinct 

The genesis of a secondary personality is then easy to 
follow. To begin with, there is abnormal activity, 
a * parasitic budding ' in the mentality. An ill-assimilated 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

grouping takes place round some specially active thought, 
some emotion, tendency, impression, suggestion, or 
auto-suggestion, as a nucleus. This primary group 
partly escapes from the directing centralising control, 
and collects round it secondary and weaker mental 

From this point there arises in the depths of the 
mentality a silent struggle between the parasitic per- 
sonality and the Self. Most frequently the former is 
vanquished, disintegrates, and is assimilated by the 
Self. But sometimes by reason of insufficient directing 
power in the latter, because its evolutionary level is 
low, or through a want of affinity (original or acquired), 
or through a congenital tendency of the grouping to 
decentralisation, the parasitic personality prospers and 

It groups around itself a larger and larger part of 
the mental activities, annexes imaginative elements, 
strengthens by daily use, and soon a rupture becomes 
possible; a new confederation is formed in the mentality 
and there is a secession from the Self. 

Thenceforward there begins open strife, with variable 
results, with alternations of failure and success, between 
the Self and the factitious personality or personalities 
for the possession of power, for the integrity or the 
disintegration of the whole, for domination of the 
psychological field. 

There is no known case of secondary personality 
which cannot be explained as the result of this process. 

It might be possible to go further still, and to suppose 
a defect in assimilation of the mental elements by the 
Self not only within the period since the birth of the 
actual vital group, but in some anterior grouping. On 
this hypothesis (which would have to be brought to the 
test of facts), the possibilities connected with the genesis of 
secondary personalities would be greatly enlarged. 

Such a one or another of these secondary personalities 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

might be the unassimikted * representation ' of the Self 
in a preceding life. ... 

Among secondary personalities mediumistic per- 
sonalities should be placed in a distinct class. By their 
self-activity, their originality, their permanence, and 
their definite affirmations as to their origin, and finally 
by the supernormal powers they sometimes manifest, 
they must be made the subject of a special and separate 
study. We shall consider them last. 



Ordinary intellectual work is essentially the result 
of close collaboration between the cerebral and the 
superior psychism. 

In the normal man during waking hours, the two 
psychisms are fused, united, and homogeneous, and 
their output is regular, but limited as to quality by the 
cerebral capacity. The superior faculties are manifest 
only by innate proclivities, general capacity, and 
individual character. 

During the repose of the brain the superior psychic 
activity persists, but it is not perceived or remains 
entirely latent. Its action is manifest however in the 
well-known mechanism of subconscious elaboration, 
which is wrongly attributed to automatism of the 
brain. This latter automatism only produces ordinary, 
incoherent, and futile dreams of a commonplace kind. 

Logical, coherent dreams, and those which show 
genius, are due to accidental repercussion on the cerebral 
psychism of the superior psychism which is always active, 
though unperceived. 

We may place reverie side by side with dreams. 
Reverie means the relaxation of all intellectual effort 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

and of the full control by the Self. Ideas pass through 
the mind according to habitual associations and affinities, 
and the Self looks on as at a play; not interfering unless 
to set aside a disturbing idea from time to time, to direct 
ideas in a prescribed sense, or to make imaginative 

In order that intellectual work may reach its greatest 
output and to ensure the full collaboration and direction 
by the superior and extra-cerebral psychism, it is neces- 
sary that there should be some relaxation in the centralised 
direction of the individual grouping. 

It is for this reason that the extension of sub- 
conscious collaboration and the occurrence of inspiration 
are nearly always associated with the abnormal and 
neuropathic states which this momentary and relative 
decentralisation brings about. 

Now and then it seems that the limitation imposed 
by cerebration is broken through; then the higher 
faculties appear, but these will always be impeded or 
even diverted by the alternations between effort (i.e. 
centralised action), and relaxation of the synthesis, 
which latter implies relaxation of cerebral limitations. 

Crypto-psychism and cryptomnesia, so incompre- 
hensible as mere cerebral faculties, are readily explained 
by the fact of the higher subconscious psychism. Though 
not directly accessible to the will and knowledge of the 
person, which are normally bounded by cerebral limita- 
tions, they none the less contribute greatly, though in 
an occult fashion, to the extension of the field of 
psychic activity, of which they constitute the main 

Innate proclivities, powers which are not inherited, 
inspiration, talent, or genius appearing apart from 
voluntary work, are all explicable by the essential nature 
of the subconscious psychism and the part it plays in 
the origin, the development, and the functioning of the 
normal individual. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Inspiration is the result of the free activity, increased 
by liberation, of this higher extra-cerebral psychism. But, 
by the very fact of the decentralisation which liberates 
it, this activity only reacts on the normal consciousness 
by flashes, intermittently or fragmentarily, in an incon- 
stant and irregular manner. 

That which is called * unconscious work * is, more- 
over, rarely pure inspiration. Most frequently it is, 
we repeat, the result of a kind of collaboration of the 
conscious with the higher subconscious psychism. 

Consciousness elaborates or starts the work; but 
the limitations of cerebral capacities do not allow of its 
satisfactory conclusion, whatever efforts may be made. 
Then the collaboration of the subconscious sets in by 
a latent process. It is continued during, and especially 
during, the repose of the brain ; for the subconsciousness 
is then detached from the physiological contingencies 
which affect that organ, and transcends its limitations. 
The fact that this collaboration is unperceived causes 
its results to, appear sometimes like a revelation. 

Genius takes its creative power from the very 
essence of the Self. It is well to observe that theoreti- 
cally, genius does not necessarily imply a high degree 
of mental evolution for its manifestation. But practi- 
cally, in order that its creations may be durable, genius 
requires an extended knowledge of the mutual relations 
of things, and this conscious or subconscious knowledge 
implies a high evolutionary level. It must also be 
remarked that genius does not imply perfection. The 
diverse manifestations of genius — scientific, philoso- 
phical, artistic, religious, and so on — are not protected 
from disharmonies and errors. Reasoned control is 
indispensable, as we have before observed. It is for 
this reason that a man of genius can produce nothing of 
use to humanity unless he is also at a high evolutionary 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 


The appearance of the supernormal resembles that 
of creative inspiration and genius — it is conditioned by a 
degree of decentralisation sufficient to break for the 
moment the cerebral limitation of the individual. From 
the depths of the subliminal consciousness there will 
sometimes issue, as from a window suddenly opened in 
the opaque enclosing envelope, dazzling flashes of 
divination, powers of action from mind to mind, or 
powers superior to matter, released from the contin- 
gencies of Time and Space. 

This lucidity, these apparently unlimited powers, are 
not really marvellous; or at least they are neither more 
nor less marvellous than all the phenomena of life and 

There is no hard and fast line between the normal 
and the supernormal; both have their origins in the 
vital processus, and the only difference is that the one 
is familiar to us and therefore gives us the illusion of 
understanding it, while the other derives its occult 
character from the fact that it is unusual. 

Supernormal physiology presents exactly the same 
mystery as normal physiology: the normal formation of 
a living being is neither more nor less marvellous, neither 
more nor less comprehensible than the abnormal forma- 
tions which mediumship presents to our view. It is, 
we repeat, the same ideoplastic miracle which forms the 
hands, the face, the tissues, and the whole organism of 
the child at the expense of the maternal body; or the 
hands, face, and organism of a * materialisation ' at the 
expense of the body of a medium. 

The psychological supernormal is but one aspect, a 
hidden aspect, of the normal conditions of the individual, 
whose apparent consciousness is only the limited reflection 
of his total consciousness. There is the same mystery 

261 T 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

in the creations of genius as in lucidity, the same 
independence of contingencies, the same divine 

In the sum total of the phenomena of life, of con- 
sciousness, and of the evolution of the individual, 
either one apprehends nothing or one apprehends all. 
We apprehend nothing when we seek to refer the whole 
being to one of its principles, more especially to the 
crudest — the material body; we apprehend everything 
when we consider the divine and permanent Self in 
its passing and diverse objectifications. 

In fine, there is no supernormal, as there are no 
miracles I The supernormal is but the unusual manifesta- 
tion of the Self, released by decentralisation, revealing 
itself by all its powers, even those that are highest and 
most latent; in contrast with normal psychic life which 
only allows of narrow manifestations, strictly confined 
within bounds of material * representation.* 

Emergence of the * supernormal ' merely proves that 
there are in the Self higher powers which are unused 
and unusable during terrestrial objectification; powers 
of action from mind to mind (mento-mental), extra- 
sensorial powers of divination and clairvoyance, and 
finally powers of dominating matter. 

We may admit, with Myers, that these higher 
faculties which escape our will during earth-life, and 
are accessible in a relative and fragmentary manner in 
proportion to the abnormal decentralisation of organic 
limitations, are more completely accessible to us after 
the final rupture of those limitations by death. Especially 
does it seem reasonable that these faculties now in process 
of development should, some day, be fully available to 
the Self. Their regular and normal use will denote the 
superior and ideally evolved life in which consciousness 
will have won its final triumph over the original uncon- 
sciousness. Then there will be no * limitation ' of the 
Self by the individual grouping which it directs. The 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Self will know all and have power over all. It will have 
realised its diverse and unlimited potentialities. 


Mediumship puts great problems before us; but 
these become relatively easy in the light of the preceding 

The mechanism of mediumistic action may be 
summed up as decentralisation of the individual grouping 
of the medium and isolated manifestations of the 
decentralised portions. 

Sometimes these isolated manifestations are carried 
on in the grouping itself, intrinsically; sometimes they 
take place extrinsically, by an actual exteriorisation. It 
can be seen how vast is the field covered by mediumistic 
action : — 

Motor, sensorial, dynamic, and intellectual exteriori- 

sations ; 
Different kinds of automatism ; 

An immense variety of manifestations of a psycho- 
logical order; 
Isolated action of the cerebral psychism; mental 
disjunctions and personifications of very various 
natures and levels; Pythian or suggested 
phenomena; crypto-psychic or cryptomnesic 
manifestations, and those called supernormal. 
Thus understood, mediumship is a whole world; 
one that defies any partial and fragmentary exploration 
and is concealed from those who merely look into a few 
details, but which reveals itself to the high and clear 
vision that contemplates the sum total of the complex 
factors of Being. 

To seek to explain mediumship, as some psychologists 
do, by a series of fragmentary hypotheses adapted 
to a few of its phenomena, is useless. None of these 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

partial explanations on points of detail can have any 
value at all. Mediumship, in all its prodigious diversity 
can be understood only by the knowledge of the actual 
psychological constituents of individual man, what the 
individual grouping consists of, and its possibilities of 
relative and momentary dissociation; and, especially, 
by knowledge of its metaphysical essence, and of the 
creative dynamo-psychism objectified in it. 

If, and only if, we take our stand on this new concept 
of the Self, it becomes easy to comprehend the endless 
diversity of mediumistic action. Nevertheless, even if 
we take these precise notions on the constitution of the 
individual as our point of departure, there will always 
remain questions open to controversy on the subject of 

Among these reserved questions two, more especially, 
are open to discussion — the personalities manifested, 
and the teachings given by these personalities. 

I. Mediumistic personalities. In all manifestations 
of mediumship is to be observed a marked tendency to 
* personification.* The mental disjunctions, exteriori- 
sations, cryptomnesic and crypto-psychic phenomena, and 
powers over matter, are not usually anarchic or incoherent; 
they denote a purpose and show direction. This 
direction is by a secondary personality distinct from 
the Self. 

Often this secondary personality is insignificant and 
ephemeral. Just as elementary exteriorisations and 
incipient mento-mental action or clairvoyance — the 'small 
change' of mediumship — are usual in the normal existence 
of mediums, so also the tendency to disjunctions and 
autonomous personifications appears as a commonplace 
and uninteresting phenomenon. 

But in the favourable atmosphere created by spiritist 
stances, or following on frequent use or impulse, or 
sometimes spontaneously, these manifestations become 
more precise and accentuated, and the directing 


From the TJnconsctous to the Conscious 

personification then sometimes acquires truly remarkable 
power, and deserves the closest attention. 

What is the origin and nature of these mediumistic 
personalities ? In ordinary disjunctions, the secondary 
personalities which appear as a consequence of mental 
decentralisation behave as usurpers of the place of the 
Self. They seem to aim at replacing the legitimate 
government; they declare themselves to be the true 
Self. In mediumship, their behaviour is different — they 
declare themselves foreign to the Self; they claim to 
be distinct entities. Usually, at least in our day and 
in the west, they claim to be the * spirits ' of the dead, 
and say that they only borrow from the medium the 
vital dynamism and organic elements which they need 
in order to act upon the material plane. 

The proofs given by them in support of their state- 
ments are generally vague and will not bear examination; 
but sometimes they are singularly clear; they recall 
the personality of the deceased, they give minute and 
unknown personal details, his native language, his 
features (in teleplastic cases), his- signature, etc. 

What are we to think of these affirmations } Are 
they always false .'' Is mediumship but the domain of 
deceit and illusion.'' Many students of psychism do not 
hesitate to say so. Let us reproduce some of their 
arguments. They say; — 

* Mediumistic personalities may well, in spite 
of their affirmations, be only secondary personalities, 
their genesis being analogous to these latter. As they 
start from a suggestion or an auto-suggestion, whether 
conscious or subconscious, their development and 
their acquirements would be under the same 

* None of the proofs of autonomy and indepen- 
dence can be formal. The psychological differences 
in faculties and knowledge from those of the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

medium can be explained simply by the complex 
nature of mentality and the extension of crypto- 
psychism; the contradictions in ideas, character, 
and will, may represent merely interior tendencies 
repressed by daily life and escaping violently by the 
safety-valve of mediumship. The supernormal may 
belong to the mediumistic subconsciousness. 

' None of the proofs of identity can be com- 
pletely convincing; the origin of all knowledge, 
even the most unexpected and secret, even that of 
a language of which the medium is ignorant, may 
be in cryptomnesia, thought-transference, or clair- 

* The new tests invented by English and American 
investigators (cross-correspondences, communications 
of the same entity to different mediums who have no 
relations with one another) are evidently at first sight 
somewhat disconcerting to our thesis. It is clear 
that facts as precise and extraordinary as those for 
instance, observed by Madame de W.,^ seem to 
indicate an independent and autonomous directing 
will. But is not that another illusion ? Who can 
say if the personality may not acquire by mediumistic 
culture, besides great autonomy, a transitory 
dynamism, at all events while the experiment lasts, 
a dynamism borrowed from the medium and giving 
it the power of acting on other mediums at a distance } * 

Of course, anything may be possible. But when 
arguing on mediumship, all the notions which we have 
established on the constitution of the individual must 
be borne in mind. These notions which (accepted in 
their entirety) have extricated us from the chaos of 

^Annates des Sciences Psychiques: 'Contribution a I'^tude des corre- 
spondances croisdes.' (In this case 'Rudolph,' the alleged communicator, 
in order to prove his separate existence, gave parts of a message to one 
automatist in Paris, and other parts to another at Wimereux, near 
Boulogne, within the same hour ; the parts making no sense till combined. 
[Translator's note.] 


¥rom the Unconscious to the Conscious 

classical psycho-physiology, and have enabled us to 
understand the general meaning of the individual and 
the universe, also permit the affirmation of the survival 
of the Self, and its endless evolution from unconscious- 
ness, to consciousness. It should be beyond doubt that 
the Self both pre-exists, and that it survives the grouping 
which it directs during one earth-life; that it more 
particularly survives its lower objectification during 
this life. This may at least be admitted, if not as a 
mathematical certainty, at least as a high probability. 

If so, the manifestation of a ' discarnate spirit * on 
the material plane by the aid of dynamic and organic 
elements borrowed from the medium then appears an 
undeniable possibility. 

In face of a fact apparently of a spiritist nature, one 
attitude only befits the instructed investigator — to 
take good sense as his guide. It is for good sense 
and sane judgment to appraise the statements of the 

It is in the name of good sense that English and 
American investigators, weary of strife, and well aware 
of the disconcerting subtleties which have been advanced 
to explain the mental side of mediumship, have ended by 
accepting, with striking unanimity, the categorical and 
repeated affirmations of the communicators. 

After Hodgson, who, starting from absolute scepti- 
cism, declared after twelve years of study that there was 
in his mind no room for even the possibility of doubt 
of survival and on the reality of communication between 
the living and the dead, Hyslop, Myers, and more 
recently Sir Oliver Lodge, have plainly given utterance 
to the same conviction. 

I refer the reader who desires to form a reasoned 
opinion, to the publications of these psychologists, that 
he may weigh the value of their arguments.* 

* See the Proceedings of the English and American Societies for 
Psychical Research, and Sir Oliver Lodge's recent book, Raymond. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

For my own part, if I may give a personal impression 
of what I have observed in the domain of mediumship, 
I should say that even if in a given case spiritist 
intervention could not be affirmed as a scientific certainty, 
one is obliged, willingly or unwillingly and on the aggre- 
gate of cases, to admit the possibility of such interven- 
tion. I think it probable that there is, in medium- 
ship, an action of intelligent entities distinct from the 
medium. I base this opinion not only on the alleged 
proofs of identity given by the communicators, which 
may be matters of controversy, but on the high and 
complex phenomena of mediumship. These frequently 
show direction and intention which cannot, unless very 
arbitrarily, be referred to the medium or the experi- 
menters. We do not find this direction and intelligence 
either in the normal consciousness of the medium, nor in 
his somnambulistic consciousness, nor in his impressions, 
his desires, or his fears, whether direct, indirect, suggested, 
or voluntary. We can neither produce the phenomena 
nor modify them. All happens as though the directing 
intelligence were independent and autonomous. 

Even this is not all. This directing intelligence 
seems to be deeply aware of much that we do not know; 
it can distinguish between the essence of things and their 
representations; it knows these sufficiently to be able 
to modify at its will the relations which normally govern 
these representations in space and time. In a word 
the higher phenomena of mediumship seem to indicate, 
to necessitate, and to proclaim direction, knowledge, 
and abilities which surpass the powers — even the sub- 
conscious powers — of the mediums. 

Such is the deep impression resulting from my 
own experiments as well as from the reports of experi- 
ments by other metapsychologists. If my impressions 
are correct it can readily be understood why certain 
series of celebrated experiments (such as those of Crookes 
and Richet), seem to have had but one outcome: to 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

bring these eminent men to an unexpected conviction 
by the methods most likely to produce a strong impres- 

2. In what concerns the * teaching ' given by the 
communicators, the difficulties of an estimate are no 
less considerable. 

These teachings are too variable in nature and value 
to be made the basis for rational beliefs. 

The contradictions which M. Maxwell* has taken 
pains to set forth are very disconcerting to any one who 
thinks to base his beliefs on them. But it is not less 
obvious that these contradictions are both natural and 

Bearing in mind the notions which have been demon- 
strated above, a mediumistic communication may be 
conceived to have either of two origins: — 

{a) The communication may come entirely from the 

In this case it may be due to cerebral automatism, 
or to a mental disjunction and a factitious personality, 
or it may be a manifestation of crypto-psychism or 
cryptomnesia. . . . Obviously then its value will be very 
variable. Intellectual mediumship will be sometimes 
the source of wonderful foreknowledge or revelations; 
or sometimes, and more frequently, of platitudes, false- 
hoods, and errors. It may show a superior inspiration; 
it may also display a disconcerting and silly incoherence. 
There are all degrees and categories in the products of 
mental disjunction; and only those who are ignorant 
can be surprised or moved by them. 

* We are incarcerated prisoners,* Maeterlinck - 
exclaims poetically: 'with whom he (the real Self, 
the unknown guest) does not communicate when- 
ever he will. He prowls round the walls, he cries, 

* Maxwel] : Les Ph^nomenes Psychiques. 
? Maeterlinck : L'Hdte Inconnu. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

he warns, he knocks at all doors; but nothing 
reaches us but a vague disquiet, an indistinct 
murmur which is sometimes translated to us by 
a jailer only half awake, and, like ourselves, 
captive till death. . . . In other words, and without 
metaphor, the medium draws from his habitual 
language, and from that which the sitters suggest to 
him, materials wherewith to clothe and identify the 
presentiments and the unwonted visions which come 
he knows not whence.* 

This unknown guest, this subconscious person is 
not in reality a single and homogeneous being. It 
would be better named * the subconscious complex,* 
which can reveal itself to us under the most diverse 
forms and attributes. 

Unity belongs to the real Self only, as distinct from 
the mental process as from the organic form, but retaining 
in itself the memory-total of all representations. 

In order that the Self, abstracted from organic 
limitations, should be able to reveal its higher powers and 
the immensity of its latent conscious acquisitions, it 
must be able sufficiently to master its own decentralised 

Such a condition rarely comes about, and it is for 
this reason that crypto-psychic manifestations are usually 
fragmentary and erratic. 

{b) Even if the communication proceeds from an 
intelligence distinct from the medium, it may 
itself be imperfect or falsified, frequently both 
and in varying degrees. 

Passing through the mediumistic channel it will 
necessarily be limited by the mentality and the cere- 
bration of the medium ; and as the intrinsic subconscious 
inspiration has such difficulty in reacting accurately on 
the brain, there is all the more reason why an extrinsic 
inspiration should be limited, lessened, or deformed. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Not only so; by the very fact of communicating, 
the communicator experiences a psychic disturbance; 
a fact which has been specially noted by English and 
American investigators. In borrowing substance from 
the medium, the being takes on limitations as it does 
at birth by taking on a body of the substance of his 
mother. By the fact of communication on the material 
plane he undergoes a kind of relative and momentary 
reincarnation; accompanied, as in normal reincarnation, 
by oblivion of his real situation and by the suppression 
of the greater part of his conscious acquisitions. 

If the spiritist explanation be accepted, one is 
obliged to suppose that during the time of manifestation 
through the intermediary of a medium, the communicator 
finds himself irresistibly brought under conditions which 
were characteristic to him in earth-life. For these 
reasons, and because of these primary difficulties, 
communicators may abound in details of their identity 
but find great difficulty in giving precise notions of 
their actual conditions. 

These ideas, if they were capable of proof, would 
tend to establish the existence of an * other side * not 
very dissimilar to this side. The ' representation ' which 
the discarnate spirit would make of it would at least 
recall the * representation * which the incarnate Self docs 
actually make of the material world, though on ' planes * 
more subtle and related to all we have previously noted 
of the individual constitution of Man. 

The information given relating to evolution and 
the transition from unconsciousness to consciousness are 
more precise. 

If, as is logical, we take account only of the messages 
which bear marks of high inspiration and superior will, 
most of the contradictions disappear. 

All the higher communications without exception, 
affirm the survival of that which is essential in the Self, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

and also unlimited evolution towards greater conscious- 
ness and greater perfection. They all place the ideal 
and the purposes of Humanity above any dogmatisms. 
All proclaim a high morality of goodwill and justice. 

Progressive evolution from the unconscious to the 
conscious is not however always referred to palingenesis.^ 
The plurality of existences is never denied in the higher 
type of communications, and it is often implied. It is 
so in the admirable messages received by Stainton 

But this is of small importance. It will evidently 
be wise to take account only of facts and reasoned 
deductions from facts in constructing a philosophy of 
individual evolution. It is on them only that the 
sovereign beauty and the shining truth of evolution 
by palingenesis should be based. It needs no other 

^Palingenesis. Gr. irSXtrs again; 7A'e<r« =prodtictioii. Used"' in 
modem biolo^ for hereditary evolution not modified by adaptation. 
Here used in its philological meaning of re-birth. — [Translator's note.] 

* Stainton Moses : Spirit Teachings. 






We can now, by a wide induction, refer back to the 
Universe what we know of the individual; for what is 
demonstrated for the individual — the microcosm — cannot 
but appear true for the universe — the macrocosm. 

Like the individual, the universe should be conceived 
of as a temporary representation and an essential and 
real dynamo-psychism. 

Just as the individual organism is but an ideoplastic 
product of his essential dynamo-psychism, so the universe 
appears as a vast materialisation of the creative principle. 

Finally, like the individual, the universe passes by 
evolution through the fact of experiences acquired by 
and in representations, from unconsciousness to con- 


Let us consider the universe under this aspect: — 
In the livingbeingwehave seen the original and creative 
unconscious dynamo-psychism enriched and enlightened, 
so to speak, by conscious acquisitions. We have noted 
the progressive and unlimited tendency to unification, 
to harmonious fusion of unconsciousness with conscious- 
ness, and have been able to infer that the multitude of 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

evolutionary experiences integrally retained and trans- 
muted into new capacities, has, as its result, the greater 
and greater realisation of consciousness which absorbs 
the primitive unconsciousness. 

In the evolving universe the process is the same. At 
first it represents a very ocean of unconsciousness ; then, 
from that ocean, there emerge islets or icebergs of 
consciousness. These are at first very small, very few, 
and isolated; the waves of unconsciousness frequently 
submerge them. But the evolutionary impulse con- 
tinues; the islets grow, are multiplied, and join. They 
form great continents whose summits shine in full 
consciousness; but their base and foundations lie deep 
in the Unconscious whence they arose and of whose 
nature they partake. 

Later on, in higher evolutionary phases, the domain 
of consciousness will in turn have absorbed into itself 
the primitive ocean of unconsciousness whence it was 

That these propositions are of the philosophic order 
is undeniable; but they are not metaphysical in the 
proper sense of that word, because their data are 
scientific and rational. 

"When it is said that evolution is the transition of a 
potential and unconscious dynamo-psychism to a realised 
and conscious dynamo-psychism, this is not meta- 
physical : it is only the expression in philosophic language 
of an obvious scientific truth. It is a general conclusion 
of a higher order drawn from verified facts. 



If we consider the details of evolution we shall see 
that the transition comes to pass very simply. 

The primitive evolutionary impulse which is manifest 
in the first appearance of vegetative forms and those of 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

the lowest animals, is obviously unconscious. The 
experiments of De Vries show that it is anarchic and 
without order. There is an exuberance of life in all 

But the secondary factors, especially adaptation and 
selection appearing at the same time as the forms them- 
selves, come into play. They do not cause evolution, 
but evolution takes place conformably to their influence. 
They bring about the persistence or the extinction of 
the forms which have appeared. They aid the evolu- 
tionary process by regularising it. 

To this primitive phase, a second succeeds: as soon 
as a rudiment of consciousness appears, it also has a 
part to play. The acquired consciousness reverts to 
unconsciousness; which it fertilises and enlightens. 
Thenceforward the creative impulse is not anarchic, 
little by little it becomes regular and concentrated; it 
obeys in some measure environing necessities in order 
to facilitate adaptation. 

It is, however, not yet conscious in any way: even 
the appearance of the main species, the transition from 
the fish to the batrachian, from the reptile to the bird, 
from the anthropopithecus to the man, were not transi- 
tions deliberately planned. The fish could not have 
understood that the batrachian is a relatively higher 
form; the reptile did not consciously desire to acquire 
wings and become a bird; the anthropopithecus did 
not understand that the species Man would involve a 
higher total of psychic realisations. 

But these transitions came to pass as if by the obscure 
influence of a need; as if the function, potentially 
anterior to the organ, had conditioned the organ which 
was to appear; as if, in a word, evolution had obeyed 
a marvellous instinct. 

If there are still gropings and errors in this evolu- 
tionary phase, that is because instinct is not infallible. 

277 u 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Instinct represents the first manifestation of the 
subconsciousness collectively, as it does in the individual. 
As in the individual, so collectively, the subconsciousness 
appears as the intermediary between the primitive 
unconsciousness and the still future consciousness. 

The subconscious is no longer a dark and chaotic 
unconsciousness; it is the unconscious already illumined 
by the reflection of realised consciousness. 

From the unconscious it holds all potentialities; 
from the conscious it draws the general knowledge 
acquired through vital * experiences * and instinctive or 
intentional aspirations towards the light. 

The reversions from consciousness to unconscious- 
ness which we have studied in the individual, greatly 
transcend the limits of individuality. By reason of the 
essential solidarity of all, the consciousness individually 
acquired reverts both into individual unconsciousness 
and into the collective unconsciousness. 

Thenceforward evolution, even of inferior species, 
is in some degree guided by a superior and deep-seated 
influence which causes them to participate in the general 
progress that has already come into realisation. 

The appearance of principal species and principal 
instincts, seemingly conforming to some kind of terminal 
state, which is not pre-established but acquired, can thus 
be understood. 

At the beginning of these principal species and 
principal instincts there is a seeming efibrt of * lucid * 
subconscious activity which creates them with a given 
form, and with characters having certain capacities, 
but also with their special limitations in space and time. 
This effbrt of lucid subconscious activity by reason of 
the acquired purpose (Jinalite)^ is always largely accordant 
with the demands of the environment in which new 
species will be evolved. The creation of a new species 
appears, in a word, as a result akin to genius in the 
unconscious, working towards consciousness. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Acquired purpose — this is the key to the enigma 
of transformism. 

The totality of evolution, like its details, reveals 
an obvious purpose which neither selection nor adapta- 
tion nor any of the classical factors can sufficiently 
explain. But this evident purpose is certainly not a 
pre-established purpose, for if it were, the plan on which 
it proceeds would not allow of gropings or errors. 

It is an acquired finality, relative, and explicable 
by the reversions from the conscious to the unconscious, 
and is simply proportional to the level of consciousness 
collectively attained. 

By reason of the ideal adaptation which it implies, 
this acquired purpose alone allows of the complete 
operation of the classical factors — natural selection, 
influence of the environment, sexual selection, segrega- 
tion, migrations, etc. Only this can explain how, 
wherever life is possible — in water, earth, and air, the 
most diverse forms of life appear; only this can explain 
the infinite variety in the forms of life and their narrow 
specialisation. Only this allows of comprehension how 
the appearance and the development of new organs 
corresponds exactly with precise needs. 

Only this also can explain how the development 
of these organs sometimes goes beyond the need and 
is effected outside of adaptation, as we see in ornamental 

The tendency towards consciousness is not only a 
tendency towards intelligence, but a tendency towards 
all that constitutes a conscious psychism, including the 
affectional and the aesthetic senses. Affectional and 
aesthetic instincts which are realised in the more highly 
evolved individuals, revert into the collective uncon- 
sciousness, and reappear as an instinct towards organic 
perfection in the acquired finality and thus have important 

Finally, it is only the purely relative power of acquired 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

finality that enables us to understand the reasons for 
errors, gropings, and regressions. 

In this lengthy phase of evolution, pure unconscious- 
ness is represented by the automatism of the main vital 
functions, and (more especially) by its infinite poten- 

Subconsciousness predominates in the invertebrates 
in which it plays an almost exclusive part. They act 
practically without any thought and are guided almost 
entirely by instinct. 

Among vertebrates there appear large * fringes * of 
intelligence, but these fringes are not, as Bergson would 
have them, a * relic ' abandoned in the transition from 
the animal to the man; there are no cast-off relics in 
this evolution. These fringes of intelligence are con- 
sciousness in rough draft. 

Consciousness develops little by little as vital and 
psychological experiences accumulate and revert into 
the unconscious which they illuminate. 

In the superior animals — the horse, the dog, the 
monkey, the elephant, etc. . . . realisation of con- 
sciousness has made immense progress; the logical and 
reasoning faculties already play an important part. 
Simultaneously the function of instinct seems to diminish, 
its manifestations are no longer continuous and dominant, 
they have become limited and intermittent. Conscious- 
ness, in fact, tends by its gradual realisation, to break 
the bonds wherein the tyranny of instinct confines the 
activity of the being, and to become the substitute for 
instinct. The predominance of the logical and reasoning 
faculties over instinct is indispensable to the evolution 
of consciousness, for the exclusive use of instinct, or 
even its predominance, implies stagnation in intellectual 

The testimony of the insect which we have already 
had occasion to invoke from another point of view, again 
illustrates our position; it proves that organic progress 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

and bodily complexity are not closely associated with 
mental progress. Physically, the insect is very highly 
evolved, but its consciousness is very greatly in arrear. 
The exclusive predominance of instinct has put the 
brake on its progress towards consciousness. There has, 
in this case, been what looks like a spurring of nature 
on a wrong road. 

It is indispensable that instinct, sure but limited, 
should give place to reason, which is indeed hesitating 
and fallible, but contains infinite capacities for develop- 

It is also indispensable that instinct, fertilised by 
conscious acquisitions, should evolve by transformation. 
This is what has occurred in the transition from animality 
to humanity. 

In Man, accordingly, instinct is duplicated. There 
remains in him an animal and physiological instinct 
which plays a less and less important part. There is 
also a higher instinct which is but another name for 

Intuition is instinct renovated, idealised, and trans- 

As soon as this has appeared, consciousness has 
played a great part. Conditioned by the subconscious, 
it conditions it in turn. From the subconscious it 
receives its principal capacities and to the subconscious 
are returned the acquisitions of consciousness; leaving 
to subconsciousness the duty of preserving these and 
transmuting them into new capacities. 

But consciousness is still very limited by the condi- 
tions of cerebral organisation, which is the instrument 
for psychic activity on the material plane. It can only 
partly utilise the unconscious potentialities. It can 
know scarcely anything of the cryptomnesic reserves. 
// does not know itself. 

The result of this limitation and ignorance is to 
favour evolution by causing many efforts in all kinds 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

of directions, thus producing a multiplicity of new 
experiences; whilst knowledge of its real state and full 
remembrance of the past would, in the present phase 
of evolution, be a restraint and an impediment to the 
thinking being, as likewise the regular use of the higher 
subconscious capacities would limit effort. 

But this limitation and this ignorance must be 
passing: all past phases of evolution remain deeply 
imprinted on the parts as on the whole. 

The interpenetration of the subconscious and the 
conscious, which is becoming more and more marked, will 
necessarily bring about a perfect fusion between them 
in higher evolutionary phases. The complete memory 
of the evolutionary past, the free disposal of original 
and acquired capacities, an extended knowledge of the 
universe, and the solution to the highest metaphysical 
problems, will all become regular and normal. 

The unconscious will then have become the 

If we would take a comprehensive view of evolution 
such as it is presented by the new notions, we shall see 
organic realisation proceeding according to the classical 
simile, as an immense tree of life, not as Bergson would 
have it, as a sheaf of diverging rockets. 

Its principal and secondary branches represent the 
diverse groups of plant and animal life, all derived from 
the trunk common to all. 

The realisation of consciousness is effected from 
complete unconsciousness to complete consciousness 
by a series of broken lines, which, starting from the base 
converge to a common summit. 

These broken lines represent the perpetual passing 
and repassing from life to death and from death to 
life of * the essential ' in the psychological elements 
individualised in the Self. The theory of palingenesis 
enables us to understand the return, by death, of the 
individualised monad to the central energy, and its 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

restoration by life to the place which it fits according 
to its rising degrees of conscious realisation. 

The infinite series of broken lines thus rises directly 
and logically from the primitive unconsciousness to 

The human form represents to-day the top of the 
evolutionary scale. How will future realisations of 
consciousness appear .? 

Will they be correlative to a new complexity in the 
present physical organisation } Or will they necessitate 
new and more perfect forms ? 

Will the ' superman * retain the present human form } 

To such questions it is impossible to reply. There 
are as many arguments to be found for as against any 
answer that can be given. 

The fact that we cannot discover any outline of a 
future organisation, carries no weight if the theory of 
mutations is true. There may be in our subconscious- 
ness or in the subconsciousness of the universe, some 
latent preparation, some slow elaboration of a new form 
which will appear suddenly when the favourable con- 
ditions obtain. 

This new form would be in conformity with all our 
conscious aspirations carried back into the subconscious. 
It would appear with an organism less gross, less subject 
to material needs, more free in time and space and 
reflecting at last our ideals of intelligence, balance, 
youth, strength, and health, our hopes of liberty, 
beauty, and love. 

This form of life and consciousness would dominate 
matter instead of being as it is now, in servitude to it. 

But is a more subtle organisation than the human body 
compatible with the needs of the terrestrial environment } 

Will it be realised only in other worlds } Is it 
already realised elsewhere } 

These are insoluble problems, and more tempting to 
poetical than to philosophic minds. 




If we look back at the difficulties in explaining evolution 
by the theories of classical transformism we shall see 
them disappear in the light of the concept which has now 
been set forth. 

We may understand that the birth and evolution of 
a world is a vast materialisation of the universal dynamo- 

We may understand how the greater can proceed 
from the less, since the creative Immanence which is 
necessarily the essence of all things, contains all potential 
capacities for realisation. 

We may understand the origin of species and instincts 
by the vital surge of creative evolution. Evolution is 
thus distinguished as a genuine materialisation of the 
Idea, a materialisation which is progressive and dis- 
continuous ; an impulse at first anarchic and unconscious, 
then subconscious and * lucid,* conforming to evolutionary 
necessities, and coming about according to a kind of 
acquired (though unreasoned) purpose, finally developing 
in the future into one which is consciously willed. 

W^e may understand the sudden transformations 
which create species, and the immediate and definite 
crystallisation of the essential characteristics of new 
species, by the fact that the creative impulse, if not 
actually discontinuous, is (at least apparently) inter- 
mittent. It is easy to answer the question. Why should 
the creative impulse be intermittent ? It is so only in 
its visible manifestations ; it is continuous, though latent, 
in the intervals between manifestations. Thus the 
appearance of a new species is prepared and determined 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

by a subconscious elaboration which passes unperceived. 
It ripens in the directing idea before being abruptly 
transferred to matter. 

This fact is not extraordinary. If nature does not 
actually proceed -per saltum^ it is not the less certain 
that in nature all manifestations of activity seem inter- 
mittent, being preceded and followed by seeming repose, 
during which a renewal of activity is obscurely prepared. 

The work of nature may be compared to that of 
an artist; and the comparison is not idle or illusory, 
but really instructive because the works of nature, 
like those of the artist, are founded in the subconscious. 
Both put on modalities of the same order. 

Case I. The artist welcomes all his varied sub- 
conscious inspirations without seeking, controlling, or 
judging any. His productions will be characterised 
by a luxuriant, unco-ordinated, and disordered exuber- 
ance. It will be the task of the critic to select among 
them; only a few will go to posterity; the greater part 
will be forgotten or will remain imperfect or abortive. 

This is what comes to pass in nature in the primary 
phase of evolution; the creative impulse is at first 
anarchic and disordered; there is an exuberant appear- 
ance of primary forms both in the plants and among the 
lower animals. Then the natural forces, represented 
by the classical evolutionary factors, do their work of 
selection, and permit only a part of the primitive forms 
to survive. 

Case 2. The artist does not always consciously direct 
most of his inspirations, he is subject to them. But 
these inspirations are no longer anarchic, they obey in 
great measure the many unperceived suggestions of the 
environment in which the artist lives, his considered or 
unconsidered intimate desires, his ambitions and his 
needs. They are subject to a thousand contingencies 
of time, place, and racial proclivities by which he is 
governed unawares. The subconscious work of the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

artist in this case, even if it is not directed by a precise 
effort of his will, is nevertheless in great measure ordered 
and regularised; concentrated, so to speak. There will, 
however, still be room, side by side with magnificent 
realisations, for errors, exaggerations, and omissions, 
and trials of effect which bear no fruit. And further, 
surrounding influences will necessitate long subcon- 
sciousness brooding over new works which will come 
to realisation. His work will be intermittent and 

It is the same in Nature after the first degree of 
conscious realisation. Her creations are no longer 
exuberant and anarchic. The intermittent appearance of 
chief species and instincts are in conformity with environ- 
ing necessities and vital needs, they obey the purpose 
acquired. But as in the work of the artist, side by 
side with the realisations which genius bring to perfec- 
tion, there will be errors, imperfections, omissions, 
exaggerations, and gropings. . . . 

Case 3. Lastly let the artist control his productions, 
and let them be perfectly conformed to the aesthetic 
sense, to high moral and intellectual purpose, to superior 
knowledge, to all that makes genius luminous, creative, 
and conscious. 

Such a one does not yet exist. In the same way 
this ideal phase is not yet realised in Nature. 

Conscious genius and the higher creation truly 
penetrated by the divine, will be the result of future 
evolution when the unconscious shall have been absorbed 
into the conscious. It will bring into realisation forms 
of life rigorously in conformity with the higher law, at 
last released from restrictions and precise in aim; 
it will avoid all gropings, errors, and evil; it will know 
all and accomplish all. 

In fine, collective evolution, like individual evolu- 
tion, may be summed up in the formula — transition 
from the unconscious to the conscious. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

The individual — the visible person — subject to birth 
and death, limited in powers, ephemeral in duration, is 
not the real being; he is only its attenuated, fragmentary, 
and illusory representation. 

The real being, learning little by little to know 
itself and the universe, is the divine spark on the 
way to realise its divinity, of unlimited potentialities, 
creative and eternal. 

In the manifested universe, the different appearances 
of things are only the illusory, attenuated, and restrained 
representation of the divine unity coming into realisation 
by endless evolution. 

Thus the constitution of worlds and individuals alike, 
is but the progressive realisation of eternal consciousness 
in the progressive multiplicity of temporary creations 
or objectifications. 






A GREAT Arab prince of the tenth century, whose reign 
marked the climax of the Caliphate of Cordova, thus 
began his last will and testament: — 

* I have now reigned more than fifty years, always 
victorious, always fortunate: cherished by my 
subjects, feared by their enemies, and surrounded 
by general reverence. All that men desire has been 
lavished on me by Heaven; glory, science, honours, 
treasure, riches, pleasures, and love; I have enjoyed 
all, I have exhausted all! 

* And now, on the threshold of Death, recalling 
to remembrance all the past hours in this long period 
of seeming felicity, I have counted the days in 
which I have been truly happy: I have been able 
to find only eleven! 

' Mortals, appraise by my example the exact 
value of life on earth ! ' 

This appalling cry of pessimism from one of the 
great and exceptionally privileged ones of earth enables 
us to understand the constant and monotonous complaint 
of the intellectually highest and best of mankind. 

M. Jean Finot has collected from all epochs and 
all civilisations, the testimonies to the endless pessimism 
which seems to oppress him also with its irresistible 
gloom .1 

* Behold a cheerful nation with an easy philosophy. 
It passes for being a generous purveyor of remedies 

* J. Finot : Progris et Bonhettr. 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

against the ill-humour from which its neighbours 
suffer. To this nation is attributed a smiling and 
harmonious concept of life. 

* This nation is France. Nevertheless, to read 
the words of its most representative minds is to see 
them oppressed by ill, beginning with the suffering 
of thought, and ending with the suffering of love. 
Whether we take Musset, Taine, Baudelaire, Maupas- 
sant, Dumas fils, Renan, Zola, the Goncourts, Leconte 
de Lisle, Anatole France, or Sully Prudhomme; 
Parisians or provincials; cosmopolitans, poets, 
thinkers or philosophers; all show us a troubled 
soul behind their melodious phrases and their 
conventional smile. . . . 

* Their predecessors, Chateaubriand, Sainte- 
Beuve, Lamartine, show similar tragedies present 
to their consciousness. What are we to say of 
Bossuet, Racine, Corneille, and so many other 
illustrious writers ? From all the heights of French 
thought comes the same note of sadness. Voltaire, 
of all men the most poised and attached to life, 
says somewhere quite seriously, ** Happiness is but 
a dream, but pain is real." Elsewhere he says, 
** I do not know what eternal life may be, but this 
life is a bad joke." 

* For Diderot " we exist only amid pain and 
tears. . . . We are the playthings of uncertainty, 
of error, of necessity, of sickness, of ill-will, and 
of passion ; and we live among rogues and charlatans 
of every kind." 

* The moralists join in the chorus of disgust 
with life. Larochefoucauld, Charron, La Bruy^re, 
Chamfort, and Vauvenarges, all make the same 
complaint: *' Life is not worth the trouble of 
living! ** And the writers of other lands are 
marked by a despair which is perhaps louder and 
less musical. . . .* 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

M. Finot takes in turn the dominant note in the 
state of mind evidenced by the literatures, the philosophies 
and the religions of all times and all places, and finds 
everywhere and always the same pessimism out- 
weighing the optimism of the few who are happy or 

The works of Schopenhauer merely condense all this 
general pessimism. His philosophy, which sums up the 
truths known to his time, and is their natural and true 
expression, could not but be pessimist. * To work and 
suffer in order to live; to live in order to work and 
suffer,' seemed to him the emblem, not of humanity only, 
but of all life. 

Since Schopenhauer, new truths have illuminated 
natural philosophy; evolution has been the leading idea. 

What are its conclusions to be ? Will they also 
yield to pessimism ? Do they allow us a rational antici- 
pation of a reign of happiness ? 

For von Hartmann, evolution and pessimism go 

M. Harald Hoffding^ remarks: — 

* The ethic of Hartman is closely connected with 
his pessimistic theories. He sees an inevitable 
incompatibility between civilisation and happiness. 
The progress of civilisation is marked by a reduction 
of happiness. The more complicated the mechanism 
of life becomes, the more chances of misfortune 
there are. Sensibility to pain becomes greater, and 
increasing capacity for thought only perceives 
illusions the more surely. Civilisation increases 
wants more rapidly than the means of satisfying 
them. Therefore it becomes necessary to choose 
between civilisation and happiness — between the 
theory of civilisation and that of happiness. Happiness 
presupposes calm and peace, and for this reason 

* Harald Hoffding : Histoire de la Philosophic Moderne. 

293 Z 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

brings stagnation and extinction; Evolution leads 
us on until all possibilities are exhausted/ 

M. Jean Finot has vigorously traversed the concepts 
of pessimistic evolution. He thinks that evolution, 
properly understood, leads to optimism; not the sancti- 
monious optimism of Sir John Lubbock, but a rational 
optimism, based on the progress of humanity from all 
points of view. Indeed, if we consider all the aspects 
of progress — social, individual, scientific, legal, medical, 
hygienic, etc. ... we see clearly a very considerable 
reduction in the causes of suffering as time goes on. 

Humanity has carried on a more and more successful 
struggle against harsh nature, against cold, heat, hunger, 
distance, sickness, and so on. Above all, customs have 
become more humane. Everything shows this; and 
concurrently with a diminution of suffering, evolution 
implies an increase in the power of knowing and in the 
capacity for feeling. 

Joy — ^the predominance of happiness-bought to 
result mathematically from this double and inverse 
movement — enlargement of the field of consciousness 
and the faculties of sensation, and consequently of the 
sources of happiness; and a correlative reduction in the 
causes of pain. 

We have then before us two opposite theses, both 
based on evolution. Which of them is true } 

An impartial examination of the facts can alone 

If we consider only the actual state of humanity, 
it is clear that the pessimistic theory is still the only 
one that can be sustained. There is no need of pro- 
longed reasoning or pathetic rhetoric in its support. 
We need not even appeal to the present spectacle of 
the limitless folly of man, putting the whole power of 
science into the service of Evil in a world-wide war 
destructive of all beauty and all joy; nor even the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

individual catastrophes which are the common events 
of life. 

It will suffice to take an average normal human life, 
that of a man placed in ordinary circumstances and of 
ordinary understanding; and to consider it coolly. 

What does his existence consist in ? 

During one quarter of a century he works to acquire 
the means of livelihood ; for another quarter he struggles 
amid perpetual anxieties to make these means of life 
give a sufficient return; then he dies without knowing 
exactly why he has lived at all. * To will without motive, 
always suffering, always struggling, then to die, and 
so without end, century after century, until the crust 
of the planet breaks into pieces I * cries Schopenhauer. 

What pains and sorrows, what anxieties and disap- 
pointments during the short quarter century during 
which the man * enjoys ' his gains; ephemeral youth 
with its short-lived illusions; a life worn down by 
preparation for living; hopes always disappointed and 
always renewed; a few flowers culled by the wayside 
of life and soon faded; a few instants of repose, and 
then the weary march forward again. Personal anxieties; 
family worries; heavy and ceaseless work; vexations, 
disillusions, and deceptions; such is the common lot 
of mortals. For those who have an ideal it is even 
worse; some intoxications in the pursuit of illusions 
and heart-breaking discovery of impotence to attain 
them. Where is the man who, like the great Caliph, on 
reckoning up his days of complete happiness could 
count on finding eleven } Who is he who could find 
one single day of undiluted happiness. 

If we consider life as it actually is to be the summit 
of evolution, Schopenhauer's pessimism is justified a 
thousand times over. Yes, it is replied, but humanity 
and life have as yet realised but a small part of their 
possibilities of happiness. Progress is continuous. 
Comparison with past centuries gives a glimpse of future 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

ones. Better still, it is not forbidden to hope from human 
evolution a triumph over matter itself — an organism 
less liable to sickness, and the incidence of old age put 
back; a psychism more conscious, more detached not 
from ignorance only, but above all from the base and 
wicked sentiments which still pervade humanity as it is. 
We may hope for an era with fewer sufferings, less 
poverty, and fewer repulsive diseases. From the night 
of misfortunes and sufferings, lightened by a few passing 
rays of joy we may catch a glimpse of a dawn of happi- 
ness in which the pale shadows of residual pain will but 
bring into relief bright and harmonious beauty. 

We may hope all this! We may imagine humanity 
one day reaching this ideal; but such a humanity will 
establish its victory only on hecatombs of vanished men. 
Thus for centuries and centuries men will have suffered 
in order that their privileged descendants may at last 
reach happiness ; a happiness which they will have deserved 
no more than their progenitors had deserved their 
miseries I 

All the efforts, the sorrows, the infinite pains of the 
former will have ended in this single result — the 
monstrous building up of this privilege for their 

There is in this concept such injustice as would 
suffice to bring us irresistibly back into philosophic 

But this is not all. Even the concept of an ideally 
privileged humanity, highly evolved and happy, is weak 
in its foundations. This humanity would see its happy 
life poisoned by the idea of inevitable and approaching 
annihilation. The thought of death as the end of all 
would be unendurable to hypersensitive beings unpre- 
pared by daily trials for the renunciation of life itself. 

The man of the future, we are told, will travel on 
a wide and easy road through a dream-country in which 
every one of his senses will bring him joy! Vanity! 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

He will but catch a glimpse of that dream-country 
between the tombs which border the way — tombs of 
ancestors, of parents, of dearest friends, sometimes of his 
children, and straight before him there will be his own, 
which will gape, great and terrifying, growing larger 
at every step he takes and hiding the view and the 
horizon. At every turn and stage of life, in the midst 
of every joy, his ear will hear the knell — * Brother, 
thou must die.* 

In order that the vision may change; that the thought 
of death may lose its sterilising character and its apparent 
curse, the evolutionary idea must receive its natural 
complement — the teaching of re-birth. Then all becomes 
clear — the tombs are no longer tombs; they are but 
transitory harbours after the voyage of life, — beds of 
repose for the closing day. They will neither inspire 
fear nor hide the horizon; they only mark a stage accom- 
plished in the blessed ascent towards consciousness and 
life. Beyond the tomb, with unfailing prescience we 
see henceforth the march resumed, less weary, with new 
horizons, a larger outlook in a more intimate, purer, 
happier communion with the Infinite. 

And as with the idea of palingenesis the funereal 
attributes of death disappear, so also the monument of 
injustice raised by classical evolution crumbles down. 
In evolution there are no longer those who are sacri- 
ficed and those who are privileged. All the efforts, 
both individual and collective, all the sufferings will 
have ended in the building up of happiness and the 
realisation of justice; but a happiness and a justice for 

The end and purpose of life are henceforth com- 
prehensible, and we find them conformable to our dearest 

In our concept of the universe there is no place for 
a philosophy which was derived only from a 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

false outlook on things. No! the Single Essence, by 
whatever name it may be called, creative of numberless 
representations, does not end in materialising itself in 
a vain phantasmagoria of worlds, of forms, of beings — 
without past and without future, absurd representations, 
incoherent, nonsensical worlds, empty phantoms gone 
almost as soon as created, and vanished without leaving 
a trace! 

No! And, a fortiori^ that essence does not materialise 
worlds of pain serving no purpose but as theatres for a 
drama of universal, undeserved, useless, and fruitless 

The fugitive representations are neither incoherent 
nor unfortunate; it is through them and by them that 
the one essence which is the sole reality, comes at last 
to self-knowledge, through the innumerable experiences 
which it brings with it, individually and collectively, in 
its parts and as a whole. 

These representations, at last understood, reveal a 
governing harmony; from them issues the supreme 
end, a purpose truly divine. This harmony is the 
immanent concord of each with others, the close solidarity 
of the individualised parts of the one principle, and their 
inviolable union in the All. The aim is the acquisition 
of consciousness, the unlimited transition from the 
unconscious to the conscious; this transition is the 
release of all potentialities; it is the realisation in 
evolution of Sovereign Intelligence^ Sovereign Justice, and 
Sovereign Good, 



That which is * essential * in the universe is eternal and 
indestructible \ permanent through all the transitory appear- 
ances of things. 

That which is essential in the universe passes^ by 
evolution^ from the unconscious to the conscious. 

Individual consciousness is an integral part of that 
which is essential in the universe^ and itself indestructible 
and eternal^ it evolves from unconsciousness to consciousness. 

The first of these three primordial data of our philosophy 
is unanimously admitted. At all events it is the founda- 
tion of all the great philosophical systems belonging to 
all ages of the world. 

To deny it would imply the absolute bankruptcy of 
the philosophical mind; it would be to deny philosophy 
itself. This premise, moreover, is no longer an a priori^ 
a postulate by the mind of genius : it rests, as we have 
demonstrated, on a solid and positive basis. 

Intuition, reason, and facts, show us with one accord 
under innumerable formal representations which are 
temporal and spatial and therefore (like Time and Space) 
illusory, a dynamo-psychism which alone is endowed 
with unity and permanence; that is to say, which alone 
is real. 

The second idea, though more open to question, 
is really forced upon us by all considerations relating 
to evolution. The transition from unconsciousness to 
consciousness is the one thing which is most striking 
and undeniable in evolution. The procession of forms 
of life admits of gropings, mistakes, arrest, and even 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

retrogression ; but the development of consciousness as 
a whole is continuous. There is more general conscious- 
ness in the reptiles of the secondary epoch, than in the 
invertebrates and fish of the primary epoch; still more 
general consciousness in the mammals of the 
tertiary; and yet more in the quaternary when man 

Comparing one species with, another, there is only 
one certain criterion of evolutionary superiority — the 
degree of consciousness acquired. That superiority 
consists neither in organic complexity nor in its perfec- 
tion; it is not physical power; nor adaptation to some 
privileged function such as flight; it is only the degree 
of consciousness acquired. 

To evolve is really to develop consciousness of one's 
real state, of the state of the environing world, of the 
relations established between the living being and his 
surroundings, between the immediate surroundings and 
the whole environment. 

The development of the arts and sciences, the 
perfecting of the means to diminish pain or to satisfy 
human needs, are not in themselves the purposes of 
evolution. They are but consequences of the realisation 
of the essential aim, which is the acquisition of a larger 
and larger sphere of consciousness; and all general 
progress has the enlargement of the field of consciousness 
as its preliminary condition. 

All this is undeniable and undenied, and it is only 
a perfectly legitimate inference that the summit of 
evolution, in the measure that we can conceive of this 
summit, should be the realisation of a general conscious- 
ness unbounded and quasi-omniscient — a consciousness 
truly divine and bringing with it the solution of all 

It is the province of the Conscious to subdue to 
itself, little by little, the vast area of the Unconscious 
from which it arose. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

If the two first data of our philosophy are undeniable 
and generally undenied, this is not the case with the 
third. The permanence and unlimited development 
of the individual consciousness are denied by most 
philosophers, even by those who have admitted our 
general concept of things. 

Averroes and Schopenhauer are in agreement with 
contemporary materialists on this point. For them, 
personal consciousness is a cerebral function appearing 
with the organism and disappearing with it. Like the 
body, that consciousness is a passing and ephemeral 
phenomenon indissolubly linked to its proper repre- 

We maintain on the contrary that the individual 
consciousness is an integral part of that which is essential 
and permanent in the living being, that it pre-exists 
and survives all successive organisations — all objecti- 
fi cations or representations of the eternal essence; 
keeping the entire remembrance of these representations, 
and growing step by step with all the experiences which 
they involve. 

Doubtless the permanence of the individual con- 
sciousness is contrary to appearances, because the major 
part of its gains remains subconscious and latent during 
the period of a terrestrial life; and it is not surprising 
that this should appear an absurdity to the vulgar crowd, 
unless indeed it be made into an article of faith for 

On the other hand, it is as regrettable as it is sur- 
prising that a philosopher of Schopenhauer's genius 
should have shared the opinion of the crowd without 
discussing it. 

The permanence of the individual consciousness has 
a double demonstration to support it — the scientific and 
the metaphysical. 

It is quite natural that the scientific demonstration, 
being based on facts still unknown in Schopenhauer's 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

day, should have escaped his notice, but it is all the 
more difficult to understand his blindness to, or his 
prejudice against the metaphysical demonstration. 

The metaphysical proofs for the permanence of the 
individual consciousness are two. 

The first is presented to our view by the field of 
nature. Schopenhauer remarks that nature seems 
everywhere and always to consider death, which is 
apparently so much to be dreaded, as an unimportant 
incident. She expresses this 

* by delivering over the life of every animal and 
of man himself to the most insignificant accidents, 
without interfering to save any. Think of the insect 
placed on your path; the least deviation, the most 
involuntary movement of your foot decides its life 
or its death. Look at the slug, deprived of all 
powers of fleeing, resisting, defending itself, or 
hiding — a prey to the first enemy that comes. Look 
at the fish playing unconscious in the net about to 
close; the frog, whose rnere indifference is the bar 
to its escape; look at the bird unconscious of the 
hawk that hovers over it; the sheep whom the wolf 
. watches from its hiding-place. Provided with only 
the shortest foresight, all these creatures play in 
the midst of dangers which menace their every" 
moment. These creatures, made with such con- 
summate art, are abandoned, without hope of return, 
not only to the violence of the stronger, but to the 
merest chance, to mischievous instinct of the first 
comer, to the waywardness of children. 

* Does not this amount to a declaration by 
Nature that the annihilation of the individual is a 
matter of indifference. Nature very plainly declares 
this, and she never lies. Well, if the Mother of all 
things cares so little as to throw her children into 
the midst of a thousand environing dangers, that 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

must be only because of the certainty that if they 
fall, they fall back on her own breast, where they are 
in shelter; so that their fall is but a jest. ... If 
our sight could penetrate to the foundation of 
things we should think as Nature does. Fortified by 
this thought, we should explain the indifference of 
Nature to the death of individuals, by the fact that 
the destruction of phenomena in no way touches 
the true and real essence.* 

The argument of this great thinker does not concern 
life alone; it adapts itself wonderfully to consciousness. 

Personal consciousness is as ephemeral as the earthly 
life to which it seems to be linked. Yet more, nature 
seems to set no special value on the perfection or the 
extent of personal consciousness. The intellectuality 
of the senseless crowd, of the formless mass and mere 
dust of humanity are under the same chances as the 
higher intellectuality of the great men who seek to 
guide the masses; the rudimentary consciousness of 
the Russian peasant, little above, if it is at all above, 
animal consciousness, and that of a Newton, a Pasteur, 
or a Schopenhauer, are treated alike. If these marvellous 
intelligences whose entrance on life has required inde- 
scribable efforts of evolution prolonged through centuries 
— intelligences that actually sum up all the perfection 
that evolution has as yet engendered, are abandoned 
without hope of return to the merest chance, to con- 
tamination of the body by a microbe, or even to senile 
decay, does not this amount to a declaration of Nature 
that the disappearance of personal consciousness, however 
elevated it may be, is a matter of indifference, or, which 
comes to the same thing, that this disappearance is only 
seeming disappearance ? 

Yes! If the Mother of all things cares so little 
for her highest realisation — personal consciousness 
— that can be only because of the certainty that when 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

this personal consciousness seems to vanish, it returns 
to the shelter of her own breast. 

If our insight penetrates far enough to the founda- 
tion of things, we think as Nature does. 

We then know how to explain the absolute confidence, 
this complete indifference of Nature to the disappearance 
of personal consciousness; the seeming end is not really 
the end, for it cannot touch the true and real essence of 
the individual, nor his realised consciousness, which, 
like that essence and with that essence, — the divine 
spark — ^is pre-existent, surviving, and eternal. 

What, then, does death matter } It destroys only 
a semblance, a temporary representation. The true 
and indestructible individuality assimilates and so pre- 
serves all the acquirements of the transitory personality; 
then bathed for a time in the waters of Lethe, it material- 
ises anew in personality and thus continues its evolution 
indefinitely. Yes, that is what Nature teaches us very 
clearly and Nature never lies. 

To this first metaphysical proof, another, not less 
remarkable, may be added. If the realisation of con- 
sciousness is really the undeniable end of evolution, it is 
not possible to imagine the disappearance and annihila- 
tion of individual consciousness. 

Let us imagine general evolution very far advanced; 
let us suppose it ideally developed to a point not far 
removed from omniscience, as it must necessarily be 
some day. Nothing in time or in space could escape 
such a universal consciousness, to which time and space 
would be relatively meaningless. 

Would this universal consciousness have all know- 
ledge with the one exception of the individual states 
which it had passed through in its evolution } That is 
impossible; the universal consciousness must necessarily 
contain the sum of individual consciousnesses, it would, 
in fact, be their sum and totality. 

We have then the choice of alternative— either 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

evolution is not the realisation of consciousness, or, if it 
is, it necessarily implies the remembrance and the 
knowledge of all past states of consciousness. 

It matters little from the philosophic point of view 
that this remembrance and knowledge should be acquired 
late and at the ideal summit of evolution ; the essential 
thing is that they be not destroyed. Time does not 
affect the question. Philosophy may maintain no 
more than this — that the consciousness of individuality 
may be lost temporarily by the destruction of the organism 
but that it cannot be annihilated; that it becomes latent, 
and remains latent, till the height of consciousness 
attained revives it by awakening it from its 

This concept differs from the one which has been 
set forth in the preceding chapters only under the mode 
of time, which is of no philosophical importance. 
Essentially, both concepts are the same. 

These are the metaphysical proofs for the permanence 
of the individual consciousness. They have obviously 
no more weight than attaches to metaphysical proofs 
generally; however undeniable their cogency, they 
cannot stand in lieu of scientific demonstration. 

The whole of this book in its entirety is that scientific 
demonstration. By referring to the preceding chapters 
the reader will see the steps by which we have been able 
to deduce clearly and positively, at least as a rigorous 
estimate of probabilities, that the individual conscious- 
ness is indestructible and permanent, even when it 
becomes latent in subconsciousness. 

Every new life necessarily implies a temporary 
restriction of the individuality. Every embodiment, or 
representation on the material plane implies a limitation 
of all psychic activities by the field of cerebral action 
and its organic memory. 

But below that cerebral memory, the profound 
memory remains indelible and permanent, retaining all its 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

past acquisitions, though these are for the most part 

This has been demonstrated and there is no need 
to go back to that demonstration. 

From the point of view treated of in this chapter, 
which is the contrast between an optimist or a pessimist 
concept of the universe, we have only to ask ourselves 
whether the limitation of being, in and by reason of 
material representation, is for the better or the worse. 
We do not doubt that it is for the better. It is so if 
we consider the whole being in his past, his present, 
and his future. 

For the present, ignorance is an advantage. It is 
necessary that a man should think his field of action 
limited to the period between birth and death, 
and that he should be ignorant in the main both 
of his anterior acquisitions and of his latent 

To begin with, the fear of death concurrently with 
ignorance of the real position, is indispensable. Without 
this salutary fear a man would not exert his best efforts 
tn actual life. He would only too readily look for change. 
Any check, or disease would be unendurable; suicide 
would be of daily occurrence. 

Ignorance of anterior acquisitions is not less indis- 
pensable. In its absence the man would have an 
irresistible inclination to work always in the same 
direction, to follow the line of least resistance. He 
would hardly bend his mind to new tasks involving an 
increase of labour, and would almost inevitably be led 
into a one-sided evolution which would end in an 
abnormal and hypertrophied specialisation. 

Ignorance of the faculties which are called trans- 
cendental is a yet more imperative necessity; for the 
regular, normal, and daily use of these faculties would 
virtually eliminate effort. The workings of instinct are 
exceedingly instructive on this point. Instinct is only 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

the lower and primary form of intuition ; like the latter 
it implies a kind of divination. 

Now what do we see in the comparative psychology 
of animals ? 

That wherever instinct predominates it has arrested 
intellectual evolution. Insects possess marvellous 
instincts which they obey blindly. The insect has 
evolved perfectly steadily, but its evolution has led 
it into a blind alley where all conscious progress seems 
absolutely shut out. 

On the other hand, consider the vertebrates. In- 
fallible instinct has given place to thought; fallible 
indeed, but fruitful in that it implies and necessitates 
effort. In them accordingly, the progress towards 
consciousness is uninterrupted and allows all things to 
hope. That which is true of instinct is still more true 
of the mysterious faculties which are independent of 
time and space. Imagine a man who could avail him- 
self of these faculties in daily life, exercising at will the 
power of reading the thoughts of others, of vision at a 
distance, and of lucidity. Where would be the need 
for reflection ; why should he calculate the effect of his 
actions, foresee or strive ? He would make no errors 
but also no efforts; and without effort there is no pro- 
gressive consciousness. Like the insect, the man 
would become but a marvellous piece of mechanism. 

An evolution thus impelled would not have resulted 
in a higher degree of consciousness, but in some kind of 
hypersensitive somnambulism allowing of man knowing 
everything without understanding anything: the super- 
man so produced would have been a kind of transcendental 
automaton. At the present stage of evolution it is 
therefore not merely well, but indispensable, that the 
highest faculties, and all other psychological wealth 
accumulated by man in his evolution should remain 
subconscious and latent. Their latency does not prevent 
these subconscious faculties from playing a considerable, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

and even a primary part in man. They are the very 
foundation of his being — they make its essential charac- 
teristics. Their manifestations are sufficiently latent 
not to impede effort while sufficiently active to aid and 
guide it. 

This marvellous equilibrium is rarely perfect. Most 
men ignore these faculties too much, and leave them 
lethargic. Others know them too well; they suffer 
from the conscious inability to realise their highest 

This suffering is the price paid for genius. 

Ignorance of the past is as great a blessing as 
ignorance of the present. Only the ideally evolved being 
will find no drawback in knowing all the vast accumula- 
tion of experiences — ^sensations and emotions, efforts and 
struggles, joys and pains, loves and hates, high and 
low impulses, self-sacrificing or selfish acts — ^all, in 
fact, which has gone to build him up through the multiple 
personalities which have each specialised in some 
particular way. 

If the commonplace man had but a flash of this 
knowledge he would be dumbfounded by it. His present 
errors and anxieties are as much as he can bear. How 
could he endure the weight of past troubles, of his follies 
and meannesses, of the animal passions which have 
swayed him, of the endless monotony of commonplace 
lives, the regrets for privileged existences, and the 
remorse for criminal ones. 

Oblivion, fortunately, allows hatreds and barren 
passions to die down and equably loosens the links 
which bind men too closely together and limit their 
freedom of action. 

Remembrance of the past could but impede present 

Ignorance of the future is yet more indispensable 
and salutary in the lower stages of the evolution of 
consciousness. For the many, this ignorance is a great 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

blessing. Their mediocrity is fitted to the conditions 
of life as it is, they are adapted to its petty passions, its 
mean desires, its short pleasures and its long procession 
of suffering. 

Even when the stammering voice of Art reaches 
them, it cannot awaken them to a vision or an idea of 
a higher world. They find it quite natural (fortunately) 
to live in a world of strife and suffering, and thanks to 
their ignorance, they do not vainly revolt against the 
inevitable. Providentially, they find it normal that their 
activities should be almost entirely taken up in seeking 
maintenance and in the struggle against hostile condi- 
tions. Their interests are of a low order, like the 
character which creates them. It is well that they 
should have no other outlook than that of present effort; 
they could not bear the prospect of efforts to which they 
could see no end. 

Even for the select few ignorance of the future is 
a benefit. Without this unconsciousness they would 
suffer more by seeing humanity and life as they are 
— the scanty results of so much effort, the seeming 
uselessness of so much pain . How small a thing is the best 
that has yet come into full realisation in the course of 
human evolution — the ideal charm of feminine beauty, 
the genius of the thinker, are chained to the base and 
repugnant functions of a weak body, to all its defects 
and diseases. Contentment in such a world is only 
consistent with ignorance of a higher world of light 
and love. Some few, very few, have this intuition 
more or less clearly. In the present state of evolution 
they are not privileged beings. The sadness of the 
best among men has often no other origin than a glimpse 
from the unconscious on too bright a future, so distant 
that it seems but an empty dream . . . confronted with 
tangible realities all that remains when the entrancing 
vision fades is discouragement, a disdain for the present, 
and the shadow of a great sadness over all life. 

309 ^ 

From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

But this ignorance which holds man back from 
knowledge of his past, his present, and his future, does 
not involve pessimism; it is part of necessary and 
inevitable, but fruitful evils. 

Moreover, according to our philosophy, ignorance 
is essentially transitory and belongs only to the lower 
phases of evolution. It is lessened or in fitting measure 
broken through, even now in the course of that evolution, 
and it will one day give place to completed and perfected 

If it is true — as everything goes to prove — that 
bodily life implies a restriction and limitation of the 
conscious individuality in a definite direction, it seems 
obvious that release from the organism should extend 
the limitations of that individuality. When that release 
takes place, the Self can then grasp those realities which 
the limitations of the brain now hide from him, in the 
degree that his evolutionary level and his acquired con- 
sciousness permit of. That release from limitations 
already takes place by metapsychical decentralisation; 
and it should, a fortiori^ also take place by death. Accord- 
ing to all probabilities the sequence of events is as 
follows : — 

For animals, and men of very low grade, the phase 
of existence which follows on death is short and dark. 
Bereft of the support of the physical organs, conscious- 
ness, still ephemeral, is weakened and obscured. The 
call of matter asserts itself with irresistible power, and 
the mystery of re-birth is soon brought about. 

But for the more highly evolved man, death bursts 
the narrow circle within which material life has 
imprisoned a consciousness which strained against the 
bounds imposed by a profession, family, and country. 
He finds himself carried far beyond the old habits of 
thought and memory, the old loves and hatreds, passions 
and mental habits. 

To the degree that his evolutionary level permits, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

he remembers his past and foresees his future. He 
knows the road by which he has travelled, he can judge 
of his conduct and his efforts. Many things which, in 
life, appeared to him very important, now seen from a 
higher point of view, seem small and petty. 

Great joys and great sorrows, mental storms out of 
all proportion to their causes, the passions which devastate 
a life, and the ambitions which consume it — all these are 
reduced to their true values, and hold but a very small 
place in the chain of conscious remembrance. 

Some of the links with the past are easily broken; 
they pass away like the mists of dawn. Some are strong; 
they are part of the unbreakable chain of destiny and 
can be unwound only little by little. This time out of 
the body is not only a phase of recollection, of synthesis, 
and of self-judgment; it is also a time of active psycho- 
logical assimilation. In calm consideration the fusion 
of old with new experiences takes place and the Self 
identifies itself with the states of consciousness which 
memory has stored up during life. 

Such assimilation is indispensable to unification of 
individuality and to harmony of soul. As we have 
already shown, it seems to be the fact that some curious 
and mysterious disorders of personality are due only 
to defective psychological assimilation anterior to the 
present life, and to a decentralising and divergent 
tendency among mental elements ill-assimilated by the 

In fine, the successive phases of organic and extra- 
organic life seem to play distinct and complementary 
parts in evolution. 

Organic life shows analytical activity, limited to a 
given direction, and permitting the maximum of effort 
in that direction; with a temporary beclouding of all 
in the living being which is outside the immediate 
purpose and the framework of present life. 

To extra-organic life pertains synthetic activity, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

comprehensive vision, the work of mental assimilation, 
and preparation for fresh effort. The relative importance 
of one earth-life in the series of existences is no greater 
than that of a day in the course of that earth-life. One 
life — one day; the life bears much the same ratio to 
the course of evolution that the day bears to a single 
life. They are analogues. 

There are good days and bad days; good lives and 
bad lives; days and lives which are profitable; days 
and lives that are lost. A single day and a single life 
cannot be appraised apart from preceding days and 
lives : they form a chain of consequences. No one limits 
his labours or his cares exclusively to one day in a life. 
No one plans the work of a day nor of a life without 
reference to the days that are past, and to those that 
are to come. It is the same with our lives — ^in the 
interval between two existences the Self that is sufficiently 
evolved prepares its plan for the future. Lives, as well 
as days, are separated one from another by a period of 
seeming repose which is nevertheless one of useful 
assimilation and preparation; and as on waking we find 
many problems solved as if by magic, so it is at the 
dawn of another life. The first steps of the Self seem 
to be guided; it walks securely as if led by a hand in 
the path which it has indeed chosen, but which, once 
born, it follows blindly. 

Thus, from one existence to another, the Self comes 
slowly and by the vast accumulation of stored and 
assimilated experiences, to the higher phases of life 
that are reserved to the complete development of its 
consciousness — to the completed consciousness that 
realises all. 

Ideally, full consciousness should extend to the 
present, the past, and the future. This implies a species 
of divination, now incomprehensible. But this much 
we can logically infer: that it must be a state of know- 
ledge of the Self and the universe sufficiently extended 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

to restore the past from oblivion, to permit the 
regular and normal use of faculties that are now trans- 
cendent and metapsychicj and to allow some insight into 
a free and happy evolution enfranchised at last from the 
darkness of ignorance, the bonds of necessity, and the 
pangs of suffering. 



In the concept of palingenesis the ultimate realisation ? 
of sovereign justice is assured with absolute and mathe- 
matical certainty. 

The individual never being other than he has made 
himself in the course of his evolution by the immense 
series of representations he has gone through, it follows 
that everything that is within his field of consciousness 
is his own doing, the fruit of his own work, his own 
efforts, his own sufferings, and his own joys. 

Every act, even every desire and inclination, has 
an inevitable reaction in one or other of his existences. 

This is the consequential interplay of inherent, 
fateful, and unavoidable justice. This inherent justice 
usually begins in the course of a single life taken by 
itself; but it is then seldom truly equitable. Regarded 
in this restricted manner justice often seems fallible and 

But by considering a long chain of existences it is 
seen to be mathematically perfect. The balance is struck 
between favourable and unfavourable circumstance and 
only the sure results of his conduct remain as the man's 

This inherent justice is not only individual; it is 
also Collective. It is so by the essential solidarity of the 
individual monads. By reason of this essential solidarity, 
the reversions of consciousness to unconsciousness are 
never entirely personal. Conscious acquisitions and 
their transmutation into capacities are necessarily collec- 
tive. The degree to which this is so does not lend itself 
to analysis, but is none the less certain. Similarly, 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

individual acts have inevitable though undefinable 
reactions on the conditions of all other lives. A certain 
general collaboration in evolution is thus assured, by 
which every ejffbrt that conforms to or opposes the moral 
law has a collective reaction over and above its reaction 
on the individual. 

This point cannot be too strongly emphasised. 
There is no exclusively individual responsibility for any 
particular act, good or bad, and for no such act can 
an exclusively individual warrant be pleaded. 

Everything that is done or thought for good or evil; 
everything that each one feels by emotions of joy or 
sorrow, reacts on all and is assimilated by all. Therefore 
the acts of an individual or a group, of a family, a nation, 
or a race, cannot be appraised in their moral or social 
aspects as having reference only to that individual or group. 

No doubt this collective solidarity seems continually 
lessened as we pass from the family to the nation, from 
the nation to the race, from the race to humanity, 
and from humanity to the entire world ; but these 
diminishing reactions, as seen in their effects, are integral 
parts in the actual constituent essence of things. 

Therefore all the devices of selfishness by persons, 
families, or nations, are mere aberration. 

This great law of solidarity has been proclaimed 
by philosophers and moralists in every age, but has 
found small response. It is to be hoped that the voice 
of science may receive a better hearing and have more 
influence on suffering humanity! 

The concept of justice inherent in palingenesis 
involves great and far-reaching consequences. 

From the metaphysical and religious standpoint, 
it abolishes the puerile notions of supernatural sanctions 
and a Divine judgment. The least that can be said 
of these notions is that they are useless and artificial. 

From the moralist standpoint, it gives a solid founda- 
tion for moral {i.e, idealist) teaching. Its practical 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

bearing is immediately understood; it enjoins before 
all else, work and effort; not isolated effort, the selfish 
struggle for life, but co-operative effort. 

All the lower order of feelings — hatred, the temper 
of revenge, selfishness, and jealousy, are incompatible 
with the idea of solidarity in evolution and inherent 
justice. The man who has attained to the knowledge 
of palingenetic evolution will quite naturally avoid any 
act which can injure another, and will assist him to the 
best of his power. 

Trusting to the internal sanction of duty, he will be 
able to forgive misdeeds against himself, and will look 
upon the foolish, the malicious, and the criminal as 
beings on a lower plane or as sick persons. He will 
know how to resign himself to natural and passing 
inequalities which are the inevitable result of the law of 
individual endeavour in evolution, but will do his best 
to remove the excessive inequalities, the artificial 
divisions, and the mischievous prejudices of mankind. 
He will extend kindness and pity to animals, and save 
them, as far as may be, from suffering and death. 

Nevertheless, some moral objections have been made 
to the idea of palingenesis. 

It has been alleged that oblivion of previous existences 
must suppress the conviction of moral causes and effects. 
How can that be ? Oblivion of a fact does not alter 
the consequences of that fact. 

Moreover, as we have seen, the forgetfulness is 
relative and temporary, pertaining to the cerebral 
memory only; it does not touch the subconscious memory 
pertaining to the true Self. The oblivion is but pro- 
visional. The whole of its past belongs to the Self, 
and though now latent in the higher consciousness, it 
will some day be fully and regularly accessible to the 

After all it matters little that man, during his earth- 
life should be in ignorance of the deeper reasons for 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

the conditions in which he finds himself. He has full 
responsibility and has to take its full consequences. 

Another objection which has been alleged against 
the palingenetic theory is the existence of pain among 
creatures too backward in evolution to have any know- 
ledge of moral causes. What crime can a horse, beaten 
by a drunken brute, or a dog tortured by vivisection, 
have committed in a previous existence ? 

In this reasoning there is a fundamental error. Evil 
is not necessarily justified by the past. It is more often 
the consequence of the low general level of the present 
evolutionary state. To see in the sufferings of a creature 
nothing but the consequences of its previous acts, is 
grossly illogical. What may be affirmed is that the 
real knowledge of good and evil — the moral sanction — 
arises from inherent justice and is always proportionate 
to the degree of free choice which the creature enjoys, 
that is to say, to its moral and intellectual level.^ 

Responsibility for their acts can only be attributed 
to beings who have reached a high degree of evolution. 
The higher the evolution the greater the responsibility; 
for their considered conduct will have more and more 
influence on their progress and on their conditions of 
life according to the measure of their advancement. 

A last objection, also of a moral nature, has been 
made to the idea of justice inherent in the idea of palin- 
genesis : it is, that if an act is not followed by a rigorously 
similar retribution, there is no justice, but only half- 
justice. If it is followed by rigorously similar retribution 
there can be no evolutionary progress, but only a linked 
series from evil by evil to evil, which amounts to an 
assertion of unending reactions of evil in a vicious logical 

This objection is really only a matter of words. 
Absolute justice can perfectly well be imagined as fulfilled 
by retributions which fit the crime though perhaps are 

* See L'Etvg Subconscient. 

From the "Unconscious to the Conscious 

not equal to it. Inherent justice clearly implies wide 
margins of incidence. A bad action will not be automati- 
cally shown to be such by a similar bad action done by 
another against the first sinner; nor by any kind oi lex 
talionis which would be none the less odious for being 
a natural result. 

Action and reaction are always equal, but by the 
very fact of evolution the reaction becomes refined and 
spiritualised in proportion to the progress of conscious- 
ness. It passes from material to spiritual penalties; and 
repentance, remorse, and efforts to repair the injury 
or to amend the life, take the place of physical retribution. 

Thus the concept of evolution by palingenesis gives 
us the assurance of the ultimate sovereignty of justice 
as it also assures the development of sovereign conscious- 
ness. It reveals in the universe an orderly harmony under 
seeming incoherence, and absolute justice under seeming 
injustice. Thus understood, this concept is so beautiful 
and satisfying that we can say with M. Ch. Lancelin: 
* If this had not been instituted by God, if it had not 
been the essential reality, then man would have shown 
himself greater and better than God by the mere fact 
of having imagined it.' ^ 

^ Charles Lancelin : La Reincarnation, 



In evolution as thus understood, the evidence for the 
progressive realisation of sovereign good is over- 

Rationalistic pessimism follows naturally on a view 
of the universe, which, being only partial, is also false. 
A more extended and complete view leads to the quite 
opposite conclusion of optimist idealism. 

This synthetic outlook solves, once and for all, the 
problem of evil. 

In the first place, the definite, positive, and absolute 
character attributed to evil is inconsistent with the 
whole palingenetic idea. Evil has only a relative meaning 
and is always reparable. 

Take, for instance, the greatest of seeming evils — 

Not only is Death no longer * the King of Terrors,' 
but it is no longer the * curse * which man, limited by 
the physical body and blinded by the illusion of matter, 
has made it. 

In palingenetic evolution death is an evil only when 
it is premature and traverses or retards individual 

Intercalated between successive lives, and coming at 
its due time when the organism has given all it can give, 
Death is the great minister of orderly evolution. As 
has been already explained, the individual is thereby 
afforded many successive fields 'of action, thus avoiding 
a one-sided development of consciousness. Death has 
also another function not less useful, though the blindness 
of man generally refuses to understand its necessity or 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

even revolts against it; it breaks the links that would 
otherwise keep him within the associations of this, the 
single life he has last quitted and within the limitations 
of which he has last received impressions. 

Doubtless this rupture is painful; it cuts him off 
roughly from his customary habits and affections; but 
this relative and reparable sacrifice is indispensable to 

The rupture, moreover, is far from being always 
an evil, for while it deprives him of his power of action 
for good, it also removes him from occasions of jealousy, 
hatred, disease, and impotence, or even from an environ- 
ment in which his development is impeded. It obliges 
him to relinquish along with the worn-out body, the 
habits which have become a sterile routine. 

Another seeming evil of the same kind as death is 
the ignorance by incarnate man of his real position and 
his oblivion of past lives. Like death this ignorance 
and oblivion are essential conditions of evolutionary 

What is true of death and ignorance is true of all evils. 

It cannot be too strongly emphasised that under the 
palingenetic scheme, evil loses the absolute and irreparable 
character which makes it so unbearable. By the light 
of this idea the earth — that vale of pain and tears — ^takes 
on quite another aspect. 

Doubtless pain is still present everywhere, but 
permanent pain has vanished. There are no more 
hopeless disasters. As there is no annihilation so also 
there is no final evil in palingenetic evolution. There 
are evil lives as there are bad days in a single life; but 
in the total, good and evil fortune fairly balance and 
are more or less equal for all. 

Henceforward the cause and the function of evil 
is perfectly understandable. Evil does not arise from 
the will, nor the impotence, nor the want of foresight 
of a responsible Creator. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

Nor is it the result of a Fall. 

It is the inevitable accompaniment of awaking 
consciousness. The efforts required for the transition 
from unconsciousness to consciousness cannot but be 
painful. Chaos, gropings, struggle, suffering — ^all are 
the consequences of primitive ignorance and of the 
effort to leave it behind. 

Evolutionary theory is only the statement of these 
gropings, these struggles, and these sufferings: and 
if evolution has its foundations in unconsciousness, in 
ignorance, and in evil, its summit is in light, in know- 
ledge, and in happiness. 

Evil, in short, is but the measure of inferiority; alike 
for worlds and for the living beings they contain. In 
the lower phases of their evolution it is the price of this 
supreme good — the acquisition of consciousness. 

As evil is strictly provisional, we can form some idea 
of the future good which the higher phases of evolution 
have in store. In the first place the idea of annihilation 
will have disappeared. Death will no longer be feared 
either for ourselves or for those we love. It will be 
looked upon as we look upon rest at the end of day — 
a preparation for the activities of the morrow. 

There will be no reason to desire it prematurely, 
for life will show a great predominance of occasions for 
happiness and a diminution of occasions for pain. 
Disease will be vanquished, accidents will be rare; old 
age will no longer devastate and poison existence with 
its infirmities, but instead of coming as it now does even 
before full maturity, it will come only in the closing 
years, leaving physical and intellectual strength, health, 
and energy untouched up to- the end. 

In proportion to the development of consciousness, 
the organism will be perfected and idealised if not 
actually transformed. Physical beauty will be the rule, 
though with diversities of type that will exclude all 
sameness and monotony. 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

The causes of pain due to nature, to vital and 
physiological necessities, to social conditions only worthy 
of savages, will be greatly reduced under progress of 
every kind. 

Moral suffering also will diminish in frequency and 
prevalence. It is hard to imagine an evolved humanity 
subject to the numberless troubles which are now due 
to hatred, jealousy, and love. Love will be what it 
ought to be — a source of joy only; it is now the greatest 
source of pain and too often resembles the worst mental 

The sufferings which have been called the malady 
of thought, will disappear by the single fact that 
humanity will have a clear view of its own destiny 
and purpose, and of those of the universe. 

Concurrently with the lessened causes of suffering 
there will be, naturally and inevitably, an accession of 
causes for happiness. 

The development of intuition and consciousness, of 
psychic and metapsychic faculty, of the aesthetic and 
moral sense will multiply tenfold the emotions of joy 
and will make possible a harvest of contentment of 
which we can as yet scarcely form a notion. 

The realisation of sovereign good, in a word, will 
necessarily and inevitably accompany the realisation of 
sovereign consciousness and sovereign justice. 


If now, at the end of our labours, we cast a backward 
glance over the path we have travelled, we shall find 
additional grounds for trust in an optimist interpretation 
of the universe, and in the truth of the interpretation 
whose main outlines v/e have given. 

One single hypothesis — that of an essential dynamo- 
psychism objectified in representations and passings by those 
representations, from unconsciousness to consciousness, suffices 
to explain everything, with no other limitations than 
those natural to the faculties we now actually possess. 

Let us look back on what this hypothesis allows 

In Physiology, by the demonstrated thesis of a 
centralising and directing dynamism, it explains the 
building up of the organism, its specific form, its functions 
its maintenance, its repair, its embryonic changes, the 
laws of heredity, extra-corporeal dynamic action, the 
phenomena of exteriorisation and ideoplastic materiali- 

In Psychology, by demonstration of a superior 
psychism independent of cerebral function and by 
distinguishing the Self from states of consciousness, it 
gives a clear interpretation of the complexities of men- 
tality and differentiates between consciousness and 
unconsciousness; it explains the enigmas which arise 
from dissociations of personality, the various modes 
of subconscious psychism, innate proclivities, crypto- 
psychism, cryptomnesia, inspiration, genius, instinct, and 
intuition. In interprets hypnotism, the supernormal, 
mediumship, action from mind to mind, telepathy and 
lucidity. It even gives a clue to neuropathic states and 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

essential dementia, states whose obscure pathology 
has been the reproach of medical science. 

In the natural sciences it reveals the primordial 
and essential factor of evolution and relegates to their 
proper places the classical factors of selection and 
adaptation. It explains the origin of species and dis- 
entangles the laws of natural from those of acquired 

In philosophy, it gives an interpretation of the 
universe and of the individual, of their destiny and 
their purpose, which covers all the facts, disencumbered 
of verbalism and abstractions. It sketches out the 
demonstration of a great metaphysical hypothesis on 
the nature of things. 

To the problem of evil — ^that stone of stumbling to 
all theologies — ^it brings a solution which is simple, 
clear, and fully satisfying. While showing the individual 
the causes of his sufferings, it warrants his hopes of 
justice and happiness, and affirms their realisation 
by the unlimited development of undying conscious- 

Of course in all these explanations and demonstrations 
only the main outline of a general synthesis is to be 
looked for. An immense mass of detail remains to be 
investigated, and the whole of the analytical work still 
remains to be done. But this analysis, which seems at 
present to be beyond human powers, will be facilitated 
by the general ideas laid down. 

Once the general doctrine of the transition from 
the Unconscious to the Conscious is systematically 
established, it will be, like the clue of Ariadne, a slender 
guide but a sure one. 

Doubtless the great metaphysical enigmas still 
remain unexplained, but at least the illusion of * the 
unknowable * is at an end. 

The human mind knows its weakness, but it also 
knows its potentialities. It will no longer seek the 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

answer to these enigmas from an intuition that is neces- 
sarily limited and fallible, not in puerile ' initiations,* 
nor in obsolete dogmas. It will await the complete 
answers from the continuous development of conscious- 
ness. It knows that there will come a time when this 
consciousness, grown to its full stature, will be able 
to transcend all its limitations, to attain to what is now 
inaccessible, to understand what is now incomprehensible 
— the thing in itself — the Infinite — and God. 

For the present and henceforward the mind may 
find in this sketch of a scientific philosophy a satisfaction 
as yet unknown, for this outline results from a calculation 
of -pr oh abilities based on facts^ and in accord with all the 

It seems impossible that the concurrence of so many 
facts should result in an error in generalisation, that 
so many well-established and irrefutable premises should 
lead to a false conclusion. 

As Schopenhauer wrote: — 

* The theory which can decipher the relations 
between the world and all things that it contains, 
should find the warrant of its truth in the unity so 
established between the many different natural 
phenomena — a unity which is not apparent apart 
from that theory. When we have to deal with 
an inscription whose alphabetical characters are 
unknown, we make successive trials until we 
reach a combination that gives intelligible words and 
coherent sentences. No doubt then remains that 
the decipherment is correct, for it is impossible to 
suppose that the unity established among the written 
signs could be due to chance, or could come about 
by assigning any other value to the letters. In the 
same way the reading of the world-cipher should 
carry its own proof. It should shed its equal light 
on all terrestrial phenomena, and bring the most 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

heterogeneous into accord, so that all contradictions, 
even between the most diverse, disappear. 

' This intrinsic proof is the criterion of inter- 

Like Schopenhauer, we demand for our book the 
test of this criterion. It is indeed the logical sequel 
to his work, and the extension of his theories by adapta- 
tion to all the new facts. We have made no essential 
change in his philosophy, and we bring to it only the 
sketch of a scientific demonstration of its truth. We 
offer it as the natural complement to that philosophy 
as a readjustment which modern discoveries render 

Thus understood, our book, ^From the Unconscious 
to the Conscious.^'' could necessarily be no more than a 
ground-plan, a plan which will need many amendments 
before the superstructure is complete. But it claims 
to indicate, and give a forecast of that which once 
completed will be a monument of scientific philosophy 
by the exactitude of its proportions, the harmony of 
its general effect and its own intrinsic beauty. 

This beauty and harmony are the symbols of Truth 
and hold out a greater promise than comfort of mind 
and heart: they carry more than a scientific or meta- 
physical satisfaction; they minister to deep and intense 
religious conviction in the best meaning of those words, 

* The special religion of the philosopher,' says 
Averroes, * is in the study of that which is ; for the 
highest worship he can render to God is to seek the 
knowledge of His works which leads us to know- 
ledge of Himself in all His fullness. In the eyes 
of God that is the noblest of pursuits; while the 
most debased is to tax with error and vain presump- 
tion him who renders to the Deity a worship nobler 


From the Unconscious to the Conscious 

than any other, and venerates Him by this religion 
which is the best of all/ 

Under the aegis of these words I offer my book with 
confidence to believers, to philosophers, and to men of 
science alike. It disregards all differences of opinion 
and method, and appeals to all who have at heart a 
love of the Ideal. 

Taourirt — ^Paris, 


Ths photographs here reproduced give a very clear idea 
of the processus of materialisations described in the 
second part of Book I. Chapter II. on the problems of 
supernormal physiology. 

I wish to draw special attention to No. 7. It is 
one of the most remarkable that I have obtained; and 
was taken during the formation and prior to the terminal 
phase. The eyes are perfectly materialised and very 
expressive. Other parts of the face, and more especially 
the lower portions are far from being as complete. A 
thick rudiment of substance from the original * cord * is 
still attached to the corner of the lips. The features 
are crossed by streaks, some of which are disposed 
geometrically; these indicate the centres of force for 
materialisation. They may be compared to the nervures 
of a leaf. 

A mass of beautiful dark hair, of which a tress passes 
between the neck and the rudiment above-mentioned, 
is not visible against the black background, but is quite 
visible on a stereoscopic plate which I was able to secure. 

This fine materialisation took place under my eyes 
and I could follow its whole development. 

G. Geley. 

■* 'a -o .i: 
o a n c 

7. Knlargement ot No. 5, taken with another camera. 1 he materialisation 01 
the upper portion of the face and of the eyes is more perfect than the lower portion. 
The photograph does not show the hair well: this was abundant; the tress between 
the rudiment of substance and the neck does not show up we'' 

I he same, a few moments later, above and on the 
right of the medium at the opening of the curtain. 

1 3. Female head, evolving round the medium. (Formed 
very slowly u .der my eyes by gradual organisation in a mist 
of the substance. 1 he white veil was formed at the same 
time as the head.) 

14. The same, a moment later. 

I ;. The same, in another position. 

1 6. I'hc same, slightly masked by the head of one of the assistants at the 

17. I'he same, from another standpoint. 

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